ZIMBABWE Chief Council (ZCC) president, Chief Fortune Charumbira has castigated grown men who take children as their wives and described the practice as unZimbabwean.
By Patricia Mashiri
In an interview with HealthTimes, Chief Charumbira said men who take child brides were doing so as a disguise to abuse children and force them into marriages in the name of culture.
There is no culture which promote child marriages. Long ago people married girls at the age of 20 at most. They first looked if the girl could take care of a homestead, this includes taking care of the household chores.
“Unfortunately chiefs do not have full responsibility over the child marriages issue because of a law called criminal juridistriction. We only take these cases to the courts. There are so many cases of child marriages happening in communities we will make sure these are reported,” Chief Charumbira said.
Traditional chiefs have moved a step ahead helping the government in the fight against child marriages which have been on the increase recently. This comes after a girl Anna Machaya (14) died at a Madzibaba shrine giving birth in Bocha Manicaland. Anna was married off to a 26 year old man and was denied access to safe delivery at the hospital as she died giving birth at a church shrine.
Speaking on the sidelines of Kushinga Group ISAL annual event held in Nyakudya village, Masembura in Mashonaland Central, Ishamael Kagande, Chief Masembura said they have decided to join the fight against child marriages which has been on the increase especially during the COVID-19 induced lockdown.
“In my area we have made any agreement with all my village herds that if there is any case of child marriages in the area we will fine the parents who received the bride price for an underage daughter two cows and a goat, the person who married an under aged girl will also be fined and made to pay two cows and a goat.
“This is done to make others realize that child marriages are a criminal offense which is not to be tolerated. After the traditional court procedures, we will then report and hand over both the parents and the in-law to the police to allow the law to take over.”
Chief Masembura condemned what happened to Anna Machaya and vowed that he would influence other traditional leaders to ensure perpetrators are reported to the police and arrested.
“What happened is unacceptable and I want to preach the gospel that what happened to Anna should not happen to anyone else. That should also not happen in my community,” Chief Masembura said.
An analysis which was releases by UNICEF showed that an addition of ten million child marriage may occur before the decade because of COVID-19 threatening the years of progress.