Two families in Zhombe marry off 13-year-old girls citing hunger

A FAMILY from Joel villages in Zhombe, Midlands Province, reportedly married off their 13-year-old daughter to a 21-year-old man due to hunger, while another underage girl from the same area was also married off to a prominent local gold dealer.

Fortunately, the short-lived marriage was stopped after a former junior councillor got wind of the matter and raised alarm leading to community intervention.

The girl who cannot be named was rescued from the “in-laws” after having stayed there for some days. Villagers led by traditional leaders allegedly teamed up and enlisted the services of the police to rescue the girl.

Confirming the development to The Chronicle, Midlands provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Emmanuel Mahoko said: “I can confirm that we are handling a case in Zhombe involving an underage girl who had been married off by her family.

“We have since intervened and as I speak to you, she is now back at her parents’ home.

“For now, I cannot give you finer details because we are still carrying out investigations.”

The family of the 13-year-old girl has since appeared before Chief Weight Gwesela court.

Chief Gwesela fined both the family that tried to marry off their daughter and the family that accepted the child as their daughter-in-law.

Chief Gwesela said there was also another case where a young girl was lured into marriage by a gold panner. Both families were fined again and the girl was taken back to her family.

The incident comes as 14-year-old Memory Machaya, from Kwekwe, died on 15 July in Marange while giving birth at a Johanne Marange church shrine, torching an uproar. Government has been pressed to criminalize underage marriages as the country’s laws have loopholes which are being exploited.

The Constitution of Zimbabwe stipulates that the legal age of consent for sexual activity is 16, while the minimum age for marriage is 18. As a result, marrying off a minor is a serious criminal offence that can attract a jail sentence. □

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