Open letter to all parents

Dear parent should you find out that your child is pregnant or that they have been abused please do not marry them away. They have been violated, cheated and abused. In most cases the abuser will offer you bride price so that you don’t report to the police; please, do not accept. Two wrongs do not make a right.

If you force your child to marry their abuser you only expose her or him to (G.B.V) gender based violence, and infringe on their rights. You violate their right to education, right to play, right to parental care, right to protection form sexual exploitation and good health. Your girl child’s health will be greatly compromised she gets pregnant and give birth at a tender age. It looks good when they give you bride price but as soon as she turns 16 the husband doesn’t care anymore and in most cases no report is made.

This letter was inspired by two of our clients. The first one is a 16 year old girl is married in terms of the unregistered customary law union. She got married at 14 but now that she is 16 the husband is sending her away. Her husband took all the property from their home to another house including our client’s clothes and left the girl without any food or clothes. Our client then followed her husband but she was assaulted. We have since assisted her to apply for protection order which the court granted, her right to education though was violated by the early marriage the damage is not worth the lobola paid.

The second client is now 27, she was married at 15. She also has teenage daughter and three sons. Narrating her story to one of our Centre Lawyers who assisted her she said her parents and sisters convinced her to get married because the man was rich. She worked very hard to acquire properties and together they had an empire of businesses. At 24 before she even enjoyed the fruits of her labor the husband send her away with all her children and never gave her child support. We tried to engage the courts to have their property shared but the property was sold without our client’s knowledge she lost everything she worked for. The courts ordered him to pay maintenance for his 4 minor children but he does not pay without being arrested he is always defaulting. The effects of this early marriage on the children are so bad as their right to education is also compromised they struggle to go to school, and the father does not take care of the children.

Your child has only one childhood experience; please do not rob her of that experience by giving her hand in marriage to their abuser. A child is a child she is not an adult she will behave and act like a child until the husband is fade up and send her away.
Report any incident of child marriages to the nearest police station for help.
Lucy Rumbidzai Chivasa