BAFF rolls out campaign against child marriages in Mash Central

BAFF rolls out campaign against child marriages in Mash Central
May 15 13:04 2021

Tanya’s mother passed away when she was only six. She has never met her father believed to be a gold panner. The death of Tanya’s mom left her in the guardianship of her maternal grandmother, a widow in her early fifties taking care of another four grandchildren.
Her ailing grandmother did not have any source of income, she relied on handouts from sympathisers and donor support. They had tried subsistence farming to meet their food requirements but year in and year out the yield was poor. This was mainly due to lack of inputs like seed and fertilisers. Life was unbearable, the lived in abject poverty.
Tanya started her grade one at seven years but dropped out of school at 12 doing grade six. Her grandmother could not pay school fees anymore and the increasing duties at home demanded her presence. Tanya and her cousin, Lucy who was two years older would walk long distances each day to fetch firewood and water. As their ailing grandmother’s condition deteriorated they suddenly became the breadwinners, working at neighbours’ homesteads in exchange for food and clothing. Lucy was impregnated at 15 and the man denied responsibility. A year later another babe was added to the struggling family.
At 14 Tanya met a well-wisher who offered to assist the family, a man in his late 30s. For three consecutive months he would buy a few food items for Tanya’s family and some goodies for her. Eventually he asked Tanya out. In fear of losing the support she was getting Tanya gave in to the man’s demands for sex and at 15 she fell pregnant and eloped to the man’s home as a second wife. Today at only 20, Tanya have three children.
This sad story is not another script for an African movie, it is the sad reality facing the girl child in Zimbabwe.
According to the 2019 Zimbabwe Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), 5% of girls under 15 and 33% of girls under 18 are getting married. Nearly a quarter of girls in Zimbabwe are becoming mothers before they reach the age of 18. This phenomena is rife in Mashonald Central where 50% of the girls are married before they are 18.
Early this year, the Minister of Women Affairs Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Sithembiso Nyoni reported that, in the first two months of the year Mashonaland Central recorded 4 475 teenage pregnancies cases and 1 436 child marriages.
In the face of this harmful practice, Bindura Arts Festival Foundation (BAFF), based in Mashonald Central is embarking on awareness campaigns to end child marriages and projects to support victims of child marriages.
“Late last year we launched awareness campaigns that sought to eradicate this harmful practice which severely infringe the rights of the girl child and further deprive them of realising their full potential. We hosted the first event at Lex Mine in Shamva targeting the community and community leaders. Popular Zimbabwean artists Selmor Mtukudzi, Fungisayi Mashavave and Kapfupi spoke against child marriages and encouraged the Shamva community to stop this practice.
“Many stakeholders who include Zimbabwe Youth Council, Ministry of Arts, Sports and recreation and the Police victims’ friendly unit have also participated at our campaigns,” said Umtali Saidi, the Chairman of BAFF.
According to a report by Jeffrey Kurebwa & Nyasha Kurebwa (2018), in Zimbabwe the practice of child marriage is as a result of a range of different factors. The causes generally fall within the themes of poverty, lack of education, religious beliefs, cultural beliefs and gender inequality.
“We are also working on projects and programs that addresses the causes. The BAFF has taken into cognisance of the sustainable Development Goals, particular target 5.3 which addresses the elimination of all harmful practices, including Child, Early and forced marriage. We have also set out to put into action, ways to prevent Girls from getting into child marriages and protect those that are in child marriages.
“With the support from West Properties Zimbabwe we assisted 20 girls to plant maize and sugar beans on 2 hectare piece plot. The successful project have greatly assisted to keep the girls busy, put food on their tables and give them an income.
“This year with the support of West Properties Zimbabwe again, we enrolled 11 girls at Chaminuka technical college. The company paid for their tuition and bought clothes and shoes for them. Every month West Properties Zimbabwe supply the girls with toiletries and groceries. The 11 girls are pursuing a course in clothing technology. On completion the girls will be able to work on their own or join other companies. This will help them to sustain their livelihoods. We should all work together to empower the girl child,” said Saidi.

Local musicians Selmor Mtukudzi and Fungisai Mashavave joins BAFF chairman in a campaign against Child Marriages

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