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Child marriages a big challenge in Chegutu District


Chegutu (New Ziana) – Chegutu District in Mashonaland West province has a high number of girls as young as 14 years being married off and having children, an official has said.

The district has a total population of 332 000 people, and of these 30 000 are on HIV Anti-retroviral Therapy. The region also has 3 000 children under the age of 18 years on similar treatment.

Chegutu District aids coordinator for the National Aids Council, Virginia Tawusa told New Ziana that the district is burdened by teenage pregnancies and child marriages especially in the rural, farming and mining communities.

“We have a problem of teenage pregnancies and child marriages especially in the rural community in farms and mining areas. So that’s where most of our children get their partners,” she said.

“We have children as young as 14 years who fall pregnant; we have some who are below 14 years and have children. So it is really a big challenge,” she said.

She said the under-age girls were at high risk of getting HIV due to their failure to negotiate for safe sex.

“If someone is 14 years old, they are too young to negotiate for condom use. When someone is looking at a 14-year-old, they look at them as someone who is innocent and doesn’t use condoms with them; they fall pregnant, get Sexually Transmitted Infections, get HIV at some point,” she said.

To rescue the young and teen mothers in Mashonaland West Province, National Aids Council was implementing a programme to empower adolescent girls.

“We started this programme in 2022 and so far we have seen teen mothers going back to complete their education. We are also seeing the response of community leaders which shows that the programme is working because they are allowing their children to come for sessions with the mentor for ward 26,” said Tawusa.

The Sista2Sista programme is improving the lives of many girls in the country through mentorship as it offers a safe place where vulnerable adolescent girls and young women can speak with mentors and each other about their problems.

Girls and young mothers in the club learn about sexual and reproductive health and rights, financial literacy, and how to navigate difficult social situations, including coercive relationships.

New Ziana

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