By Daniel Chigundu
BUHERA SOUTH legislator Hon. Joseph Chinotimba says the Apostolic Sects in the country should be allowed to continue with the practice of virginity testing on girls as a way of deterring them from engaging in sexual activities before they get married.
Virginity testing is widely seen as human rights abuse in Zimbabwe and activists in that area also claim that it also exposes the girls that would have been certified to be virgins.
The practice is usually conducted by the Apostolic Sects and some other ethnic groups in the country who still uphold the issue of purity.
Adding his voice to the motion on unlawful practice of child marriages in the country, the self-styled legislator said it has become difficult to monitor activities of the girl child without virginity testing.
“The Apostolic Sect was good because girls would go for virginity testing but human rights activist say its abuse to check children when all parents will be trying to do is protect their children.
They claim that if children are checked and found to have engaged in sexual activities they are exposed and shamed publicly and they will end up finding it difficult to be married but we have seen them getting married.
It was in this Parliament where I was saying let the ways of the Apostolic church continue so that these children will continue to be monitored, right now they are doing whatever they want, you can’t tell which one has engaged in sexual activities and if you say let’s go to church to be checked they will say you want to abuse me and they report you to the police.
We can’t have a situation where as a parent I say my child should be checked for virginity she runs to the police claiming child abuse. I am saying when the laws are being put they must be critically examined to see what is acceptable and what is child abuse,” said Chinotimba.
According to the Human Rights Watch, gaps which exist in the country’s laws, extreme poverty, poor access to education, harmful religious beliefs and social norms are helping to fuel child marriages in Zimbabwe.
In a landmark ruling early this year the Constitutional Court outlawed marriage for people under the age of 18 years and also went on to set 18 as the legal age of consent in the country.
It is estimated that about 31 percent of girls in Zimbabwe are married before they reach the age of 18 years.
Many Zimbabweans fear that providing young people with contraception contributes to promiscuity, while many indigenous apostolic churches actively discourage use of contraception.-ENDS
Image by: Baynham Goredema