By Wisdom Mumera
Labour and Social Welfare Minister Petronella Kagonye say government is committed to put in place legislations that will help prevent all forms of harm against children.
Zimbabwe is currently struggling with issues of child abuse in its various forms owing to conflicting legislations that exist in the country.
Despite adopting a new constitution in 2013, Zimbabwe has taken long to align some of the subsidiary laws with the constitutions thereby creating avenues for child abuse.
While the constitution prevents people aged below 18 years from entering marriage, laws such as the Customary Marriages Act, Marriages Act and Criminal Code and Reforms Act allows it indirectly.
This inconsistence in the laws has seen issues of child marriages increasing, rapists being given the opportunity to marry their victims or some of the abuses being swept under the carpet.
Addressing delegates at the launch of the World Vision Zimbabwe campaign on ending sexual violence against children, Minister Kagonye said the country is working flat-out to flash all forms of abuse against children including religious doctrines.
“As government, we are committed to ensuring this country has child-friendly and child-centred policies that prevent all forms of harm against our children.
“Let every religious doctrine that suffocates the rights of children be a thing of the past,” she said.
Zimbabwe is viewed as relaxed when it comes to dealing with issues of child rights to the extent that it had to take two child-marriage victims Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi to literary ask the Constitutional Court to outlaw child-marriages.
Since the ConCourt ruling in January 2016, Parliament is yet to enact laws that support the ruling or at least align the current laws to speak to the judgment.
When former President Robert Mugabe officially opened the 5th Session of the 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe in September last year, he had set the Children’s Bill as part of the legislative agenda but up to now the Bill is yet to come to Parliament.
Although African countries are signatory to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) which builds on the 1979 Declaration on the Rights and Welfare of the African Child, most of them have been found lacking when it comes to implementation.
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa also spoke about upholding children’s rights when she toured various children’s homes.
“I am humbly appealing to churches, business and the nation at large to join hands so that we make children safer,” Mnangagwa she said during a recent tour of a local children’s home.
Various African countries such as Kenya (2001), Ghana (1998) and South Africa have passed Acts which prevent such abuses as child labour and put in place stringent punishments as deterrence.
In 2016 more than 12 000 child abuse cases were recorded in the country with Harare accounting for 28% of them whilst Bulawayo had the least with 2%.
Images courtesy of The Herald/ Newsday