Senators blame food, erosion of traditional values for child early marriages

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

FAILURE to keep and sustain traditional family practices that used to protect girl children from abuse has fuelled child abuse, a Zanu PF Senator has said.

Matabeleland South Senator, Alma Mkhwedu said this during debate on the Marriage Bill and factors that are contributing to early child marriages.

“Most children are being raped by their relatives and child marriages are occurring a lot.

“There are traditional practices people used to perform when a child was born. We have stopped teaching our children these practices and our culture,” said Mkhwedu.

The legislator suggested that new types of foods that have resulted in early child maturity could be to blame as well.

“Most honourable members highlighted that we should scrutinise why we are having child marriages especially nowadays, as compared to what used to happen before.

“This could be cause of the type of food that we are eating. When you look at a 12 year old, you might think she is in her late 20s,” he said.

Zanu PF and Senator for Mt Darwin Alice Chimbudzi in contributing to the debate, said the set-up of the modern family has also been a contributory factor.

“We no longer get time to teach culture and good things to our children. The mother goes out and minds her own business, the father minds his own business and the children also mind their own business,” Chimbudzi said.

“That has destroyed our culture but sometimes that is also caused but the way we behave as parents.”

Zimbabwe Multiple Indicator Cluster survey says Mashonaland Central province top the list of early child marriages at 50% followed by Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Midlands, with Bulawayo having the least prevalence at about 10%.