New Zimbabwe.com

Young girls being married off by desperate families in need of food money

By Staff Reporter


AN increasing number of young girls, caught in food insecurity situations in the country, are being traded off by family members in desperate efforts to get money to purchase food, an international humanitarian agency has said.

According to Plan International, a high number of girls are caught between impossible choices for survival as severe food shortages sweep across Zimbabwe.

“Plan International is extremely concerned at the increasing number of adolescent girls caught up in food insecurity, especially where they are being traded off by family members in an effort to earn the next meal,” said Plan International regional head of disaster risk management, Stuart Katwikirize.

He said Zimbabwe was facing a multi-layered crisis as a result of the El Nino induced poor rainfall, the devastating political and macroeconomic environment characterised by hyperinflation and very low incomes affecting over 5.5 million people living in both rural and urban areas.

“From sex-for-food to forced marriage, girls are caught between impossible choices for survival as severe food shortages sweep across Zimbabwe,” said Katwikirize.

Plan International country director for Zimbabwe, Angela Muriithi added that an increasing number of children were dropping out of school because of hunger.

“Children are increasingly dropping out of school because of hunger issues which remain a serious concern. An estimated 2.2 million people in urban areas are facing food and economic insecurity, with 53% of households in Harare reporting inability to pat school fees,” said Muriithi.

According to Plan International adolescent girls from highly food insecure areas in rural areas were considerably more likely to migrate from rural to urban locations than boys of the same age, because of weak bargaining power and access to opportunities within the household.

“In doing so, many girls face heightened risks of coerced and transactional sex and exploitative labour, as well as social isolation. The risk of exposure to domestic violence and intimate partner violence is also expected to IMC ease as consequence of heightened family tensions,” said Plan International.