HomeLocalUN condemns death of pregnant 14-year-old

UN condemns death of pregnant 14-year-old

BY NHAU MANGIRAZI

The United Nations yesterday condemned the death of a 14-year-old Marange girl while giving birth at an apostolic sect shrine.

Memory Machaya is said to have died on July 15 and was secretly buried by members of the sect based in Bocha, Manicaland.

‘‘The United Nations in Zimbabwe notes with deep concern and condemns strongly the circumstances leading to the untimely death of 14-year-old Memory Machaya from Marange, who died while giving birth at an apostolic sect shrine,” said the UN in a statement.

“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.”

The UN said in Zimbabwe, one out of three girls will be married before the age of 18 years.

‘‘The current trend of unresolved cases of violence against women and girls in Zimbabwe, including marriages of minors cannot continue with impunity,” the  UN added.

“All forms of violence and early forced marriages severely affect the mental and physical health of girls and are a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Zimbabwe is a signatory,

‘‘We look forward to the perpetrators being brought to justice.”

Machaya was allegedly forced out of school and into marriage at age 13.

Dewa Mavhinga, director for southern Africa at Human Rights Watch, urged Zimbabwe to enforce the Constitutional Court ban on child marriages issued in 2016.

“Forcing any girl into marriage causes her untold suffering and long-lasting harm,” Mavhinga said.

“Girls are often sexually abused, beaten by their husbands and in-laws, confined in their homes, forced into pregnancy and labour, exposed to serious reproductive health risks including risk of death and denied an education.

“Millions of Zimbabwean girls like Memory Machaya continue to suffer abuse because of the authorities’ inaction.”

The Constitutional Court banned child marriages following an application by former child brides Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi, who were challenging provisions of the Marriage Act that set the minimum age at 16 for girls and 18 for boys.

Judges said no one in Zimbabwe is allowed to marry before they reach the age of 18. Activists, however, say child marriages are still rife.

“The future of millions of girls depends on Zimbabwe’s government ensuring the ban on child marriages is fully enforced,” Mavhinga added.

“All Zimbabweans, and the world, should stand in solidarity with Memory and her family, and all the girls whose lives are ruined daily through child marriage.”

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