HARARE – The global organization of United Nations (UN) has expressed its disdain on the issue of child marriages in Zimbabwe promoted mainly by religious groupings aligned to the ruling elites.
The reaction by the United Nations comes after the death of Memory Machaya, a 14-year-old pregnant adolescent girl during childbirth in Marange.
In a statement, the UN through their local communications officer Ruvimbo Mushavi condemned the incident and called on authorities to act in a decisive way to end rising cases of child marriages.
“The United Nations in Zimbabwe notes with deep concern and condemns strongly the surrounding circumstances leading to the untimely death of 14-year-old Memory Machaya from Marange, who died while giving birth at an apostolic sect shrine.
“Sadly, disturbing reports of the sexual violation of under-aged girls, including early forced child marriages continue to surface and indeed this is another sad case.
“A situation where one out of three girls in Zimbabwe will be married before the age of 18 years is also not acceptable.
“The current trend of unresolved cases of violence against women and girls in Zimbabwe, including marriages of minors cannot continue with impunity.
“All forms of violence and early forced marriages severely affect the mental and physical health of girls and is a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which Zimbabwe is a signatory.
The Zimbabwe Gender Commission and Zimbabwe Republic Police have both announced investigations into the killing of Memory Machaya.
The United Nations said in the statement that it supports these initiatives and looks forward to the prosecution of those responsible.
“Efforts by the Government, civil society and faith-based organizations and development partners, including the Spotlight Initiative, a partnership between the UN and the European Union must be strengthened to end violence against women and girls.
“We call on the Government of Zimbabwe to fast track the adoption of the Marriage Bill, which recognizes child marriage as a crime and to intensify the roll out the National Action Plan on Ending Child Marriage,” the United Nations said in a statement.