Friday, March 31, 2023
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‘Marriage Bill: Time To Fight Rape Head On’


Renowned African Union Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriages, Dr Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda says the time is nigh to fight rape crime as the marriage bill is now in place to protect children from all forms of rape and sexual abuse.

Last week, the Parliament of Zimbabwe passed the bill into law and now awaits presidential assent.

Dr Gumbonzvanda applauded the bill which she said has been long in coming but said the real fight is on ensuring that rape, as a crime, is a thing of the past.

“This bill awaiting Presidential assent to become law has been long in coming. Now that it’s here, another instrument in our toolbox to fight this crime,” Dr Gumbonzvanda noted.

She further stated, “Actually, the law is broad because it also prohibits betrothal, cohabitation nemwana (kuchaya mapoto), or a traditional customary marriage.

“Further, it criminalises not just the primary person’s but also those who promote and aid. It means beware vanyai, go-betweens, vana sekuru or tete who play those role. Great that the net was cast wider.”

She also applauded the recognition of traditional chiefs as marriage officers.

“The implication is an immediate need for investing a lot of training and awareness on those law. People used to go to Chiefs Court demanding roora, or mombe yeChimanda for the impregnated girl. These are the issues. We need a huge drive for birth registration because proof of birth is paramount,” she said.

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Her Murehwa based organisation, Rozaria Memorial Trust (RMT) has been working with traditional leaders to formulate bylaws that seek to end child marriages.

“As AU Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage, it feels good to refer to positive law in one’s own country. After all Zimbabwe provided leadership in development and adoption of SADC Model Law, and this therefore is some step towards domestication,” she noted.

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Multi-award winning journalist/photojournalist with keen interests in politics, youth, child rights, women and development issues. Follow Lovejoy On Twitter @L_JayMut

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