The Students and Youth Working on Reproductive Health Action Team, (SAYWHAT) has recommitted to preventing child marriages, sexual exploitation, and abuse in Zimbabwe.
This comes after their participation in the launch of the National Enquiry on Child Marriages and Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Report, conducted by the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC).
In a statement, SAYWHAT revealed that the enquiry, prompted by the tragic incident in Marange where a 14-year-old girl lost her life while giving birth, aimed at gathering evidence based on the experiences of survivors of child marriages and sexual exploitation.
It also said the report highlighted various root causes of child marriages, including child poverty, lack of accountability from authorities, limited sexual and reproductive health and rights information, religious and cultural beliefs, gold panning activities, and limited livelihood opportunities.
“The enquiry was prompted by the tragic incident in Marange, Manicaland, where 14-year-old Annah Machaya lost her life while giving birth. The primary objective of the enquiry was to gather evidence based on the lived experiences of survivors of child marriages and sexual exploitation and abuse, amplifying their voices.
“Through action research, the enquiry identified several root causes of child marriages, including child poverty, lack of accountability from authorities, inadequate sexual and reproductive health, and rights (SRHR) information, religious and cultural beliefs, gold panning activities in certain communities, and limited livelihood opportunities,” the statement reads.
During the report launch, the statement indicated that Wadzanai Madombwe, the UNDP representative emphasised the need for collaborative efforts to end child marriages, aligning with the National Action Plan on ending Child Marriages.
“Wadzanai Madombwe, the UNDP representative, emphasized that ending child marriages requires a collaborative effort from all stakeholders, aligning with the National Action Plan on ending Child Marriages. Madombwe also stressed the necessity for further research to inform evidence-based decision-making by authorities.
“Ending child marriages, he noted, is not solely a moral obligation but an imperative duty for the people of Zimbabwe, in line with the country’s vision of becoming an upper middle-income nation by 2030,” partly reads the report.
The statement further revealed that Honorable Monica Mutsvangwa, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development, reiterated the ministry’s support for the program.
“Mutsvangwa recognized the report as a powerful tool for educating the public about the issue of child marriages. She also emphasized the need for ongoing research to ensure the availability of data for evidence-based policies and strategies by the government of Zimbabwe,” reads the statement.