Shamwari Yemwanasikana (SY)- a local movement that seeks to promote rights of girl children has commended the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) for arresting perpetrators of sexual exploitation in the case of the late Anna Machaya, a 15 year old girl who died giving birth at an apostolic church shrine recently.
Police have since arrested 26 year-old Hatirarami Momberume who impregnated the late minor, together with her parents, Edmore Machaya and wife, Shy Mabika who on top of offering their nine year old daughter as replacement to Momberume had also attempted to obstruct the course of justice by misrepresenting their late daughter’s identity.
“We commend the Zimbabwe Republic Police for investigating the issue and arresting the alleged perpetrators together with her parents for defeating the course of justice,” said SY in a statement.
“This is a key milestone in the advocacy journey against child sexual exploitation and advancing the rights of children at all levels.”
The incident sparked widespread condemnation of the apostolic church’s long-aged practice of marrying off young girls despite repeated calls by human rights defenders to bring an end to this injustice.
The legal minimum age for marriage in Zimbabwe is 18 years.
“We refuse to call this phenomena ‘child marriage’ because it normalizes and downplays the horrendous act of child sexual exploitation. No child should marry or, be made a bride! Rape is rape! Sexual intercourse with a minor does not exist as it lessens the gravity of sexual exploitation children succumb to at the hands of pedophiles,” said SY.
There was an attempt by the late minor’s parents to deliberately cover-up for the crime when they gave the police a false identity for their late daughter for it to match with that of a 22 year old –Memory, in a desperate bid to evade justice.
Following thorough investigations, the police arrested the minor’s parents for obstructing the course of justice.
“The reality of many girls in Zimbabwe who are sexually exploited under the guise of marriage, has been amplified during the past few weeks through the painful passing on of Anna Machaya and, the subsequent pledging of her nine year old sister as replacement,” said SY.
SY also demanded a harsh sentence for the perpetrators, accomplices, concealers and those who obstruct the course of justice.
“We also demand for a harsh sentence for the perpetrators, accomplices, concealers and those who obstruct the course of justice. This case should demonstrate the level of commitment to child protection and upholding of child rights through setting precedent for child sexual exploitation cases misrepresented as child marriages,” read the statement.