The effect of poverty seems to be getting hard on Zimbabwean citizens as over 4000 Zimbabwean children are forcefully married off against their wish.
Report from the Zimbabwe education department has it that more than 4 200 Zimbabwean children have been forced to drop out of school to get married this year, despite a court ruling that no person should marry before age 18.
The Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora said 3 650 girls and 251 boys had dropped out of secondary school between January and November this year. While another 305 girls and 13 boys had dropped out of primary school to start their own families.
The Zimbabwean economy has suffered massive economic backlash, coupled with severe drought effect and political instability.
The El Niño induced drought of 2015/16 has made the situation worse in some rural areas where parents now trade off their children into early marriages when they run out of livestock to sell for subsistence.
A number of the citizens have also been forced to seek refuge in other countries, leaving their own country devastated. Zimbabwean Children are the most targeted in this harsh conditions as their educational and health conditions are continuously threatened.
In Zimbabwe, children generally enrol for primary school at the age of five or six, but many in rural and farming communities start late. Dokora said the government needed to strengthen awareness campaigns against child marriages and dissuade especially girls from entering into early marriages.
“We are going in full-bloodied campaigns within our school systems to discourage children, their parents and guardians from encouraging early marriages,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Multiple Indicator Monitoring Survey said 21 percent of children, mostly girls, are married before the age of 18, largely because of poverty, cultural and religious practices.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also reported that no child from the poorest health quintile reaches higher education, with eight of the country’s ten provinces registering poverty levels between 65 and 75 percent.
“Child poverty has reduced (their) mental health and is responsible for poverty when they are adults,” said Dr. Jane Muita, UNICEF’s deputy resident representative in Zimbabwe.