A total of 69,335 adolescent females aged 10 to 19 years had live births 12 months preceding the census night in April 2022, a new report has shown.
The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) Vital Statistics Report based on the 2022 Population and Housing Census provides a comprehensive analysis of the civil registration and vital statistics situation in Zimbabwe.
The latest figures evoke discussions around the prevalence of child mothers largely attributed to religious and traditional beliefs among local communities.
According to health experts, adolescent mothers (aged 10–19 years) face higher risks of eclampsia, puerperal endometritis and systemic infections than women aged 20–24 years, and babies of adolescent mothers face higher risks of low birth weight, preterm birth and severe neonatal condition.
The report further states that a total of 439,458 live births were recorded during 12 months preceding the census night of which 27.6 percent (120,542) were by women aged 20 to 24.
On 27 May 2022, President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed into law The Marriages Act that prohibits the marriage of minors under the age of 18 in a bid to curb the practice.
However, due to varying reasons including poverty as well as religious and cultural beliefs, the practice remains prevalent in marginal communities with some parents even conniving with perpetrators of child abuse to conceal it.
With worsening poverty levels in the country, some adolescent girls are forced into prostitution resulting in unwanted pregnancies.
The report further revealed low levels of birth registration with only 20.5 percent of children less than one year having registered births.
In rural areas, 15 percent of children less than one year had registered births while 30 percent of children less than one year had registered births in urban areas.
A total of 442,659 children were under one year on the census night.
A total of 1,308,157 persons aged 5 to 24 had not acquired a birth certificate. Of these, 78 percent did not have a birth confirmation record.