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July 4, 2017

Hurungwe headman facilitates marriage of 14 year minor as police dither on arresting hubby

Filed under: News — Nhaudzenyu @ 9:40 am
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By Nhau Mangirazi
KAROI-A 14 year old Hurungwe girl bolted out of a Karoi Children’s home where she was surrendered to for medical examination and safety on Wednesday last week, investigations reveal.
The girl at the center of controversy was married off to a 27 year old man who is headman Emmanuel Mavhunga’s late brother’s, son.
Police in Magunje launched a manhunt to arrest the underage girl while the husband who was picked up for sleeping with a minor was released out of police custody after 48 hours had lapsed without going to court.
A source at Magunje charge office confirmed that the suspect did not appear in court as scheduled when he was picked up soon after the girl was rescued.
‘We had a suspect who came here on Tuesday but due to pressure as we were hosting senior District officers for inspection, the suspect did not go to court and was released. He will be summoned to appear in court,’ said a junior officer at Magunje police camp.
In a move likely to complicate the underage marriage, the girl skipped out of children’s home in Karoi hardly two days after she was surrendered by child welfare officials.
According to villagers, headman Muchini facilitated payment of a beast and money. The girl was rescued from her child marriage by district welfare officer Blessing Simango on Tuesday last week and left her at the children’s home for care and safety.
However, sources revealed that when Simango visited the home on Wednesday, the girl was nowhere to be seen.
Sources at Karoi Children’s home revealed that she absconded from the premises hardly two days she was at the center.
‘We got a 14 year old girl late on Tuesday whose case was of child marriage. We took care of her just like any other children we have here from different backgrounds. However, we were surprised that she was nowhere to be seen early on Wednesday morning. We never suspected that she could abscond,’ said a source at the center who declined to be named.
Investigations made on Tuesday revealed that the girl was married off after headman Muchini facilitated the marriage.
The area situated about 105 kilometers west of Karoi is in ward 25, Chief Dandawa within Hurungwe rural district.
Headman Muchini paid off the money and a beast since the 27 year old husband is headman’s late brother’s son.
Villagers told theweeklymirror that the headman was the prime suspect of early child marriage that has set tongues wagging in the remote village.
‘Headman Muchini released the beast for damages and $50 cash as token to the girl’s parents late in January and he did this to silence both the parents not to report the case to the police. He is the custodian of the husband after his parents passed on few years ago,’ said a villager Moses Chapara.
The girl’s’ mother aged 39 confirmed that the case went before headman Muchini who heard it and facilitated payment of cash and the beast.
The mother said they are still yet to collect the beast from their in laws.
‘Soon after Diana* eloped we got a word from our son in law that there were ready to pay some money and they said they will release a beast as part of damages to our daughter. They paid $50 as token of appreciation. We are still yet to get the beast. We tried to get the headman assist us but he was elusive to get the case reported to the police. Our child was problematic and we just thought it was good riddance on our part,’’ said the mother whom we can not name to protect the victim.
The father of the girl is aged 43 year old was silent during visit and interviews. He is a fisherman who is always in Gache-Kache fishing camp.
According to villagers the victim whom we can not name to protect her was married off to a 27 year Grade 6 dropout who is a neighbor to the girl’s parents.
It is believed the husband who was living with the minor as wife since January is an orphan but has been living with his uncle headman Muchini.
Muchini was not around during our visit.
Some villagers confirmed that headman Muchini facilitated payment of the beast as a cover -up to the child marriage act.
Hurungwe child welfare officer Blessing Simango refused to talk to the press over the case saying he had no authority to talk to the press but sources revealed that the girl has been rescued and surrendered to Hurungwe children’s home in Karoi for probation and better welfare.
Recently, Hurungwe East Member of Parliament Sarah Mahoka bemoaned high cases of child marriages where traditional leaders are accomplices by demanding fees from suspects and once paid they never act to have suspects arrested.
Mahoka told Primary and Secondary minister Lazarus Dokora that the district has high cases of child marriages.
‘We wonder why Chiefs and headman are paid fees as this has resulted in high numbers of child marriages in the district. Our girls are dropping out of school early and married since traditional leaders are not stamping authority. They demand money called chigaramaratanda and will never protect the girl child,’ said Mahoka recently at Karoi Enterprise school.

January 6, 2015

Hurungwe drop outs dent Zimbabwe education star

Filed under: Feature — Nhaudzenyu @ 9:29 am
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By Nhau Mangirazi

HURUNGWE- Fourteen year old *Tendai Marenga is Form One drop out from a resettlement school near Tengwe farming community after she eloped to be a house wife late last year.

*Marita Tarembera aged fifteen from Zvimonja under Chief Mudzimu 85 kilometers out of Karoi town is now a mother of six month old daughter after dropping out of school and was married off by her guardians who did not have enough maize to last them till next farming season.

These scenarios aptly explain the gloomy reality gripping Hurungwe, one of the country districts facing highest school dropouts aiding ‘’repellent statistics in Zimbabwe education sector’’

The district has estimated population of 361 370 of which 187 160 are females and 174 210 are males from 85 668 households according to 2012 Zimbabwe National Statistical results.

There are 168 secondary schools with an estimated enrollment of 83 572, where 92 primary schools have estimated 21 926 students annually.

Sad oracle

However, Marita’s story is a sad oracle of social and economic ills affecting rural outskirts denting Zimbabwe education star in Hurungwe, Mashonaland West province. Poverty is a driving force to some of the child marriages according to villagers here.

According to the district statistics recorded in 2013, 8 438 completed Grade Seven where 4 223 girls and 4270 boys.

However, 3 143 girls went to Form One marking 26 percent drop out and another 35 percent before completing Form Four.

Unjustified marriages

Research and Advocacy Unit, RAU, an independent body reveals that poverty, traditional beliefs and teenage sex are major reasons for early child marriages in the country.

According to findings under Married too soon in Zimbabwe, these fuel high drop outs in mostly rural set ups in the country.

‘’It is normal for a 14 year girl to be married and drop out of school. Some parents take marriage as a mitigation factor for failure to pay school fees due to economic challenges. This impacts negatively on education sector’, admits headman Richard Mangwaira of Chivakanenyama village, 45 kilometers west of Karoi town. He says traditionally they cannot overlook parental approval of such cases.

‘’Culturally parents have the monopoly over their children and we cannot impose laws to bar them from accepting lobola at a cost‘’, adds headman Mangwaira.

Fragmented laws

Zimbabwe fragmented laws are the missing link to curb child marriages as they protect girl child only on paper as dual legal system is used while customary law is overused in the country.

For example the Children and Protection and adoption act defines child as anyone below the age of 18 while the constitution grants marriage to who is 18 years old and above.

Ironically, Marriage act chapter 5.11 sets marriageable age at 18 for boys and 16 for girls.

Credit for President Mugabe

Ironically, President Robert Mugabe is credited for uplifting the nation’s population in health, education among other social sectors since 1980 independence.

Currently, Zimbabwe leads Africa as education with best literacy rate according to The African Economist 2014 June survey pegging Zimbabwe at 90.7 percent followed by Equatorial Guinea at 87 % while South Africa is placed third at 86 percent.

Overturning gains

However, the achievements may be reversed if Hurungwe remains neglected, overturning the gains to empower girls currently affecting Malawi, Mozambique Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Hurungwe is among the four rampant areas where child marriages are rampant including Chiredzi, Binga and Muzarabani as 65 % of rural girls are married or impregnated by the age of 19.

Mashonaland Central tops with 50 percent of its population while Mashonaland West is pegged second with 42 percent.

Source of hope

Empowering innocent souls...Deputy minister of Higher and Tertiary Education and Technology Development Deputy-Minister Doctor Godfrey Gandawa with zero grades at Katenhe rural in Hurungwe. Photo By Nhau Mangirazi

Empowering innocent souls…Deputy minister of Higher and Tertiary Education and Technology Development Deputy-Minister Doctor Godfrey Gandawa with zero grades at Katenhe rural in Hurungwe. Photo By Nhau Mangirazi

Campaign for Female Education, Camfed established by American scholar Ann Cotton in 1993 came as a source of hope to empower rural girls in Mola under Kariba district where 32 girls were sponsored initially. Currently, it is supporting 35 000 girls in Zimbabwe 28 districts including Hurungwe.

Regionally, Camfed is assisting children in Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe paying school fees, uniforms and other needs.

Stopping the rot

Regional director Angeline Murimirwa, a beneficiary of the program admits that drop outs is a challenge but will never deter them.

‘’It is unfortunate that some perpetrators are girl’s guardians including teachers and male relatives at times. Hatidi makudo anodya munda takatarisa meaning they will not tolerate sexual abuse on girl child calling for jailing of perpetrators’’, Murimirwa adds.

‘’Naturally girls face sexual abuse, says Murimirwa an international education icon on children rights.

Government to blame

Some teachers and parents blame Government for marginalizing Hurungwe, an agricultural productive district in the country.

‘’Drop outs are a menace as this will reverse gains invested in education sector’’, bitter Collin Magara under Chief Kazangarare about 60 kilometers north of Karoi town says.

Health issue

Rau report adds that early marriages are detrimental to health and wellbeing of girl child.

’’Child marriages can also result in bonded labour or enslavement, commercial sexual exploitation and violence against the victims. Because they cannot abstain from sex or insist on condom use, child brides are often exposed to such serious health risks as premature pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and, increasingly, HIV/AIDS’’

As Zimbabwe celebrates its literacy rate pole position in Africa policy makers, traditional leaders, police and judiciary among others face the challenge to change perspective on rural girl child.

Only then, will Zimbabwe observe its shining star status with easy.

*Names changed to protect minors’ identities

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