Source: Nehanda Radio

Real Opportunities for Transformation Support (ROOTS), a youth driven organisation advocating for economic justice for young people will be launching a campaign to end early, forced child marriages in Zimbabwe.

The six month national campaign will be running under the banner ''Not Ripe for Marriage'' and will be launched at the Book Café in Harare on the 1st of August 2014 with a broader objective is to end early, forced and child marriages in Zimbabwe.

The campaign comes against the backdrop of many reported cases of forced marriages especially of young girls below the age of eighteen.

Statistics from a study carried out by a local research institute reported that 21% of children mostly girls are married before the age of 18. Unicef reports that 39 000 girls are married off every day worldwide and according to according to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls will become child brides.

"Child marriage is a violation of children's rights as this destroys the aspirations of the young people with the consequences of this evil practice usually being poor reproductive health which leads to death, violence and forced sexual relations, lack of education which subjects women to abuse by their spouses and denies them participation in the economic and political spheres," ROOTS said.

A young mother carrying her baby

"We condemn this act of injustice which is rearing its ugly head from time to time in our society. Such practices should never be allowed to continue in this day and age under a new constitutional dispensation, were all people are equal irrespective of gender and age.

"Young girls especially from poorer backgrounds have as a result of this practice being abused and dehumanized. Therefore, while we respect the culture and traditional practices in our country, communities should rally together to address harmful cultural practices. Early-forced child marriages are acts of physical abuse and rape which are carried out against anybody's will and against the law as well as our constitution in this country," ROOTS said.

The Not Ripe for Marriage Campaign will raise awareness on the perils of forced, child and early marriages at the same time fundraising to build an economic base for marginalized girls and young women.

They hope that through this campaign, increased awareness on the effects of child marriages will lead to consequent reduction of cases of child marriage.

The campaign will also include the following activities; radio talk shows on all the country's stations, social media campaigns, awareness marches in all the major cities and rural community dialogue meetings. The campaign will also be conducted with the relevant Ministry, Parliamentary portfolio committees, local NGOS, Churches and other religious groups, artistes, media and the private sector.

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