Young girls in the mining town of Shamva have pleaded with the responsible authorities to establish recreational facilities as a way of combating early child marriages.
Speaking during a Girls Symposium organized by Simukaupenye Integrated Youth Academy (SIYA Zimbabwe) as part of commemorating 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence in Shamva on Thursday, young girls who attended the event said the mining town is in dire need of recreational facilities to keep them away from engaging in risky behaviors.
“The rate of child marriages In the town is very high because most of us end up going to taverns, beer halls, or even going to the dam where we risk being attacked by crocodiles because we do not have places where we can go and hang around,” said 16 year old Melissa.
Tilda Chihota, who also participated at the event said young children especially girls; end up throwing themselves to gold-panners who abuse and impregnate them.
“There is a binging place in the area where young girls often go to, they abuse drugs, throwing themselves to illegal gold panners who force them into unprotected sex in return for money and gifts.
“So we urge the Shamva local authority to provide recreational facilities like parks, swimming baths, libraries and youth centers that we can use to meet and share ideas as youths,” said Chihota.
Natasha, a form four student at Wadzanai High School labelled their situation tricky as they are starved of fun moments which makes them end up going to night shows where they are exposed to risky and adult life.
“Sometimes we go to music shows at night and we arrive back home in the middle of the night resulting in clashes with parents, in the end we fall into the arms of the wrong guys who sexually abuse,” she lamented.
National AIDS Council Director for Shamva District Shepherd Zanamwe said lack of recreational activities for the young girls has seen a rise in early child marriages as well as in HIV/AIDS cases.
“So when these girls are exposed to artisanal miners, they contract HIV related illnesses if not contracting the virus itself. It’s a real fight in this area and the Mashonaland Central as a whole. The local authority must come with mechanism to keep the girls in check by providing youths meeting areas, that way they will not be exposed to dangerous people,” he said.
Mashonaland Central Province is the leading HIV and Aids as well as child marriages according to National AIDS Council.
child marriagesNational AIDS CouncilRozaria TrustShamva