11 Sep

They are Not “Child Prostitutes” But Victims and Survivors of Rape and Sexual Exploitation

To:            The Editor, Zimbabwe Herald
All Media

They are Not “Child Prostitutes” But Victims and Survivors of Rape and Sexual Exploitation

I am requesting you to use child sensitive language on reporting on cases related to gross abuse of children, as in the case below that resulted in government intervention to protect. The girls in question are victims and survivors of gross crimes including rape, sexual exploitation, abuse and other human and degrading practices. The young girls should not be called “child prostitutes”.

Zimbabwe even adopted victim friendly policing and courts to ensure that cases such as as these are dealt with in ways that protect our children’s rights dignity and do not revictimise them nor result in victim blaming. Zimbabwe’s own Constitution, and the country’s commitments to regional and international treaties related to children requires the media to adhere to ethical standards for maximum protection of children and their dignity .

The media has been playing a central role in prevention and bringing visibility to such critical issues and this is commendable. You have been consistent on issues related to child and forced “marriage” as well as the cases of trafficking of Zimbabwean women to Kuwait last year. Indeed keep the focus on such issues of child rape and sexual abuse and follow through the cases to ensure prosecution of perpetrators.

A world free of violence and abuse is possible for our children.

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda
Chief Executive, Rozaria Memorial Trust
African Union Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Marriage
11 September,2017
email: info@rozariamemorialtrust.org


09 Aug

Am Forty-Something Today- Dedicating My Day to “Married” Girls

IMG_1158I am forty something today and somehow find it hard to celebrate with  the usual way of cake, and a little bash with family. All that continues to run in my mind are the faces, pain, dreams and aspirations of the “married” girls. I dedicate this day to my daughters.

We are talking of 15 million girls who are forced into marriage each year, either pushed into this institutions by poverty, or literally forced by an adult in their lives. We are essentially talking about 15 million abused girls, often coerced into sex, sexual slavery, child labour and are abducted.

It the girls who are widowed, or divorced or are  in polygamous marriages. Some unfortunately died due to pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections, others have gone through surgery for fistula or gave birth by ceasarian section. Some have more than one kid, pregnant and confused. Meeting a 24 year old who is a grandmother is heart-breaking.

Most this these girls simply want to go back to school. They want a certificate and livelihood. Many can not afford such education. Their parents no longer prioritise and after all why should they pay school fees when they are already married off. The “husband” is now having to provide the upkeep for the new wife, and the kids. Therefore paying for fees for these girls is least of his priority. Some have a fear, if the young wife goes to school and meets some young men, will she remain faithful, what if she gets economically empowerment, will she stay in the marriage. Man of these married girls are emotionally bruised, and are trying to find their feet. Often times, they are not in any youth group or women’s clubs or association. They are lonely and alone.

On my birthday today, I want to thank all individuals who have stood up to be counted and offered scholarships to girls, though in a random way and when moved by the single story. I am searching for some strategic and sustainable interventions that can give a chance to these girls. Education policies to allow re-entry? vocational skills training opportunities? scholarship fund. I am searching.

I know we must double up efforts to prevent child and forced marriage and address the underlying causes of patriarchy, inequality and poverty.

Today is my birthday, and I dedicate it to searching for solutions for these girls.

(c) Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, 2015



31 May

One Year on African Union Role Campaigning to End Child “Marriage”: Some Reflections

my africaIts a year today.

On this day, a year ago, I accepted the African Union invitation for me to serve as Goodwill Ambassador for the continental campaign to end child marriage. Little did I know that this decision will impact me, my life and world view in such a profound and fundamental way. It hard to be trusted be such personal and private stories about one’s life or that of a dear one. I wonder if we really understand the depth of trauma, pain, stigma and all other bundles of scars that are associated with child and forced marriage. It has been a real awakening for me. A wake up call to the fact that it’s not about a single girl as a statistic and as testimony, it is about layers and layers of complex issues.

Next month, at the AU Summit, as the Heads of States adopt the Africa Common Position and step up the public advocacy on this issue, I have one single ask..Africa is filthy rich, poverty should NEVER be argument that families or girls can use as justification for child or forced marriage. Child marriage should NEVER be used as an option out of poverty.The continent has enough resources to provide for its daughters.

Neither should criminals who sexually abuse girls, hide behind the cloak of culture and faith. Its simple manipulation of values that should uphold dignity and respect human rights. We must definitely talk about adult men’s responsibility and accountability and go beyond the apologetic language of “male involvement and engagement”, and yet re-socialise boys to a new form of masculinity in which real men respect women.

It clear for me that this is fundamentally about status of women in society and gender inequality. The girls must have their voice, must have social and economic opportunities, and must choose who to marry and when and if they so make such a decision. We are all responsible. Every action counts, and thank you all who have stepped forward. Thanks to each one of you who have given me such extraordinary support during the year.

What is your advice to me for the coming year? With this mandate in hand, how best can I contribute to this effort such that we can truly end child marriage within a single generation?

23 May

Child marriage a form of slavery

By Emma Batha

 CASABLANCA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Child marriage should be seen as a form of modern slavery and is tantamount to sanctioning child rape, the African Union’s goodwill ambassador said at a conference on ending the practice.

NG3Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda said child marriage inflicted life-long trauma on many girls and far more must be done to address its psychosocial impact.

“(With child marriage) we are sanctioning rape, we are sanctioning abduction, we are sanctioning a modern form of slavery, it’s trafficking, it’s forced labour,” said Gumbonzvanda, a human rights lawyer whose mother and sister were both wed as children in her native Zimbabwe.

“It’s a huge bundle of violations, and the moment we just call it ‘marriage’, it is like we are giving it a blessing and acceptability.”

Worldwide around 15 million girls are married off every year, depriving them of education and opportunities, jeopardising their health and increasing the risks of exploitation, sexual violence, domestic abuse and death in childbirth.

Children born to girl mothers tend to be less healthy, less educated and poorer. Daughters often grow up to become child brides themselves, perpetuating cycles of abuse and poverty.


Although there has been a global push to prevent child marriage, Gumbonzvanda said no one is helping the 39,000 underage girls still married off every day.

Speaking on the sidelines of an international conference in the Moroccan city Casablanca, she said girls married as children are often highly traumatised, but this is an aspect that has so far been ignored.

“We’re talking about a girl whose first sexual encounter is with a stranger, getting naked with somebody who’s much older… and being raped and raped and raped.”

They cannot turn to their families because it is their families who have married them off, yet there is no other help. Gumbonzvanda called for support networks for teenage mothers and efforts to help them re-enter the education system.

She said her own commitment to ending child marriage came from her mother, who left school to marry at 15.

“All the time we were growing up she referred to how she missed out on education, how she wanted to be something else,” she said.

“She would still dream, even as an old grandmother, about the life she felt she should have had. It pushed her to work extra hard for us to remain in school. The work I do is making the personal political.”

Gumbonzvanda said child marriage does not just impact individual girls, but also hampers development in their communities and countries. Keeping girls in school and delaying marriage is crucial for Africa’s development, she said.

The African Union launched a campaign a year ago to end child marriage, focusing on 10 high prevalence countries.

Gumbonzvanda said the campaign is clear recognition that the continent’s future prosperity is linked to eradicating the practice.

“When we end child marriage we … are breaking the cycle of poverty,” she said.

Several countries have recently launched national campaigns, but she said more needs to be done in conflict-affected countries such as Central African Republic, Mali and South Sudan.

Nearly 300 delegates representing 61 countries are attending the three-day conference in Casablanca.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/child-marriage-form-slavery-african-union-goodwill-ambassador-092806730.html?soc_src=mediacontentsharebuttons&soc_trk=tw

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