Children are the most valuable treasure that a country can have hence the need to protect them. A country can have a lot of gold reserves but if there is no future generation to pass it on to, then there is no wealth to talk about.
A 19th century scholar Mikhail Bakuninonce said children are not a property of anyone as they belong to their own future freedom.
“Children do not constitute anyone’s property: they are neither the property of their parents nor even of society. They belong only to their own future freedom.” Bakunin said.
There is need to stop abusing children and marrying them off before they become adults all because one is their parent.
Child marriages have become a cause for concern in Zimbabwe as children are being forced into marriage at a tender age of as low as 10.
According to the African union Zimbabwe is among Africa’s leading countries when it comes to child marriages.
In Zimbabwe, marriage statistics indicate Mashonaland Central has 50% of children marrying before adulthood, followed by Mashonaland West with 42% and Masvingo with 39%.
I n areas where children marry at a tender age, literacy rates are very low and it is threatening Zimbabwe’s 98% literacy levels because to these children education is not important.
Some of the areas that are still practising the vice include Chikombedzi, Uzumba, Mudzi, Hwange, Mwenezi and Ngundu.
Child marriage is a gross violation of children’s rights, according African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 1990 article 27 children has the right to protection against all forms of sexual exploitation or abuse. Zimbabwe is a signatory to this charter and in its constitution it guarantees children’s rights as it states that it is an offence punishable by the law to marry children under the age of 16, it however says the legal age is 18 but a child who is 16 or 17 may under the consent of her parents consent to marriage. This clause in the constitution allows some child abusers to get away with child abuse as some parents will be offered money by abusers and opt to marry off their child.
At times girls are raped and parents do not report the matter to the police and instead opt to resolve the matter in the family, this practise has an impact on the child involved for the rest of her life emotionally as she will have been violated emotionally and seeing the uncle, the father or the person who raped her every day will not help the situation.
Child marriages causes irreparable damage as the children are denied a chance to realise their dreams and to reach their full potential be it educational or socio economical.Because of child marriage, millions of girls miss the skills, knowledge and employment prospects that would enable them to lift their family out of poverty and contribute to their country’s economic development and prosperity. Gils who get married at an early age often drop out of school and that will certainly affect the nation as they are the mothers of the next generation, how will they teach their children the about the importance of education if they themselves are not educated and do not know the importance of education?
Child marriage can cause health problems to a girl, because of pressure to become mothers soon after marriage, many child brides become pregnant before their bodies can safely carry or deliver children. Complications in pregnancy can put them at risk of injury, and even death, as girls who give birth under age 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than young women in their early 20s. Child brides are particularly vulnerable to injury in pregnancy or childbirth: 65% of all cases of obstetric fistula occur in girls under the age of 18. Children who marry at a tender age are at risk of getting infected with H.I.V and aids as well as sexually transmitted diseases as they are too young to understand or are not able to asset their wishes regarding to whether they should practice safe sexual relations or use contraceptive methods, it is often decided for them by their husbands.
A Harare woman who identified herself as Amai Mapuranga said child marriage should be outlawed as is it is not good for the society.
“Child marriage should not be tolerated as it ruins the child’s future, all children have the right to education and are equally important. It is not good for the society if children are married at an early stage as the society will have a generation of uneducated people,” Mapuranga said.
Recently there was debate by the Parliamentary Portfolio on Health over reducing the age of consent to be reduced so that children under 16 can be able to access health services, while accessing medical attention is a good thing, it is important also to note that this can be used by paedophiles as a gap in law that can lead to rape and child marriage in the name of consenting.
Protecting girls whilst they are still young should be the primary goal of every country.
For a country to have a healthy woman, mentally who will become a responsible mother as well as a responsible member of society, it must protect the girl child from all forms of abuse.
A woman shapes the destiny of civilizations of tomorrow therefore there is need to empower them by stopping child abuse.