AT LEAST 4 959 teenagers fell pregnant while there were 1 774 child marriages recorded between January and February this year.
This was revealed in parliament Thursday by Women Affairs Minister Sithembiso Nyoni while presenting her report on the level of public service delivery related to sexual and gender-based violence during the Covid-19 pandemic in the National Assembly Thursday.
Between January and February 5, 2021, minister Nyoni said, there were 4 959 teenage pregnancies as well as 1 774 child marriages recorded countrywide.
“A total of 4 959 got impregnated in such a short period and this means that nearly 5 000 of our girls risk losing their educational opportunity if they do not pursue re-admission.
“Most worrying is the 1 774 who are in matrimonial union before their 18th birthday.
“They have lost opportunities and have also become vulnerable to other forms of violence, assault, which include economic and emotional abuse,” said the minister.
Meanwhile, among other initiatives put in place to support the victims of GBV the ministry is working on finalising legislation which will help to curb abuses.
“May I take this opportunity to update the House on some of the legislative issues which my ministry is working on which we think will contribute towards prevention.
“Sexual Harassment Bill and Gender Equality Bill; the ministry received a set of draft principles for the Sexual Harassment Bill and Gender Equality Bill from the Zimbabwe Gender Commission.
“The Bills are expected to criminalise the offence of sexual harassment and provide frameworks for gender equality. As part of the law development process, consultations are very critical and the ministry is at an advanced stage in organising consultative meetings with law based women’s organisations at national and regional levels.”
Another was the Anti Domestic Violence Council which is now under the Justice ministry.
“The next one is the mandatory sentence for rape. The Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs administers the Criminal Code Reform Act and it is spearheading the amendment of the Act to include mandatory sentencing for sexual offences. The drafting process has begun,” Nyoni added.