President Mnangagwa condemns child marriages

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Harare (New Ziana)-President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday condemned child marriages saying they do not have a place in Zimbabwe.

Speaking at the launch of the high level political impact on ending gender – based violence and harmful practices, President Mnangagwa said though the role that religious and traditional leaders played as custodians of religious and traditional customs could not be understated, child marriages done by some sects were ‘unacceptable’.

“Our democratic system has given space to citizens to affiliate with cultural and religious groupings of their choice.

“However, repugnant practices such as child marriage, which undermine the rights of our children, have no place in our country and should stop forthwith. Similarly, all religious and cultural practices must remain within the confines of what is legal and constitutional,” he said.

The President said it was disheartening to note that Gender – Based violence reared its ugly head during the various waves of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This saw a notable increase in the number of reported cases across the country. This prompted my Government to declare services related to mitigating the impact of Gender based violence, as essential services,” he said.

The event saw the launching of the second phase of the Spotlight Initiative against gender- based violence.

In June 2019, President Mnangagwa launched phase 1of the Spotlight Initiative which has seen at least 2.7 million people receiving critical information in efforts to raise awareness for prevention purposes.

President Mnangagwa said the government remained committed to fully pursue its goal of eradicating all forms of gender- based violence and harmful practices by 2030.

“As we re-commit ourselves to this initiative and embark on phase 2 of the Spotlight Initiative, I am optimistic that the programme will have a positive impact on our quest to comprehensively address Gender- based Violence and other harmful practices,” he said.

He said the government had also put in place legal and policy frameworks that would enhance gender- based violence prevention and response, adding that laws such as the Domestic Violence Act continued to enable the protection of all victims of domestic violence.

“Meanwhile, my administration has also activated a robust multi-sectoral gender mechanism, spearheaded by the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development.

“Key institutions such as the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, anti- Domestic Violence Council and other structures promoting gender equality, will be supported, adequately resourced and operationalized, to serve their purpose,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said the decentralisation of the Victim Friendly Courts as well as the resourcing of the Legal Aid Directorate remained a priority.

“This will enhance access to justice is timely dispensed for victims and survivors of gender –based violence. Concerted efforts will be focused towards capacitating Victim Friendly Units and Victim Friendly Courts.

“To date, my administration continues to spearhead the provision of services through the One-Stop centre model, which has proved to be effective in providing holistic services to survivors of gender based violence. The One Stop Centres are being established within our government hospitals.
“We commend and remain grateful to the Spotlight Initiative for supporting the up-scaling of this model through the establishment of two additional centres in Epworth and Bindura,” he added.

President Mnangagwa said ending gender – based violence went a long way in enhancing the participation of all genders in the development of the country.

“The eradication of gender- based violence will catalyse the unfettered participation of all our women, men, boys and girls in the development of our country and enable us to leave no one and no place behind. I therefore call upon all stakeholders to address the needs, concerns and interests of all marginalised groups, including people with disabilities” he said.

He commended the European Union and the United Nations for complementing government efforts towards ending gender- based violence.

“My government is cognisant of the work being done by other development partners, civil society organisations, community- based organisations, the private sector, churches and communities as a whole, to complement our efforts,” he said.

New Ziana

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