UN condemns sexual harrassment; urges government to adopt Marriage Bill

By Nyasha Nhau

While a number of early girlchild marriages is increasing at an alarming rate in the country, United Nations (UN) yesterday condemned sexual harassment to minors and is demanding that perpetrators of Memory Machaya’s death be brought to books. 

The 14 year minor Machaya’s death occurred during the time when she was giving birth at a Marange apostolic church shrine in Manicaland.

UN through it’s local information department in the  Resident Coordinator’s Office issued a press statement dated 7 August 2021. It reads, “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 forced early child marriages continue to surface and indeed this is another 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 including marriages of minors cannot continue with impunity. All forms of violence and early forced marriages 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 United Nations welcomes the investigations announced by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission into the death of Memory Machaya and look forward to the perpetrators being brought to justice.

 Efforts of the Government, civil society and faith-based organizations and development partners, including the Sporting initiative, a partnership between the United Nations 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.”

Meanwhile Zimbabweans from different parts of the world are registering their anger on social media, sending condolence messages and joined hands in condemning such acts as well as demanding that this cultural beliefs must be stopped immediately by the government through enforcing laws that prohibit forced marriages and prosecute those found on the wrong side of the law.

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