Zimbabwe legislator Ruth Labode is right. Child marriages in Zimbabwe are a pandemic. According to the Zimbabwe fact-checking organization, Zimfact, one in three girls are married before they reach 18.
While Manicaland has grabbed the headlines following the death of 15-year-old Anna Machaya during childbirth, it is actually not the worst province. It is number five after Mashonaland Central, the worst. Even Matebeleland South which Labode mentioned is way better at number nine out of the country’s 10 provinces with Bulawayo being the least affected.
Here is the fact sheet from Zimfact:
Child marriage: One in three Zimbabwean girls married by 18
The Zimbabwe Republic Police says it has opened an investigation into the reported death of a 14 year old girl during childbirth at an Apostolic sect’s shrine in Marange, in the eastern province of Manicaland.
The case has triggered public outrage and once again brought the spotlight on child marriages in Zimbabwe.
A report by The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) says that globally, more than one in four girls are married as children – before the age of 18. In the East and Southern African region, the share of girls married before 18 is 36%, while 10% of girls in the region are married by age 15.
How big is Zimbabwe’s child marriage problem?
According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat), 33.7% of girls aged under 18 are married. This is one in three girls under 18. In comparison, 2% of boys get married before reaching the age of 18 years.
Zimbabwe is among the 20 African countries where child marriages are most prevalent.
Prevalence by geographic area
Child marriages are most prevalent in Mashonaland Central, where 52.1% of girls get married before 18, while Bulawayo has the lowest prevalence rate, 10.9%.
Zimstat data also shows that rural girls are twice more likely to be married before 18 than their urban counterparts.
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