RECENT reports of child adolescent pregnancies have come under the spotlight as the world commemorates World Children’s Day in Zimbabwe, with the United Nations expressing concern over soaring cases.
The media has been awash with reports of adolescent pregnancies. Most cases involve nine year old rape victims.
Speaking during commemorations in Harare, UN resident coordinator Edward Kallon said despite progress in the protection of child rights through the constitution, recent reports are “disturbing.”
“Children should not give birth to children,” UN resident coordinator, Edward Kallon said.
“The rights of children must be protected for them to remain in school, grow freely from any form of exploitation and abuse. When a girl becomes pregnant, her education may end,” he added.
Kallon said the UN was committed to supporting the government of Zimbabwe’s drive towards ending child marriages.
“More robust efforts to protect children from such violations must be strengthened at all levels of society in line with Zimbabwe’s Constitution and laws on children’s rights.”
Last week, a nine-year-old girl from Masekesa village in Tsholotsho who made headlines recently after it emerged she was pregnant gave birth to a baby boy.
The nine-year-old was allegedly raped by her father who was arrested.
Vice President, Constantino Chiwenga, said government was worried about the surge in cases of adolescent pregnancies.
“Government is deeply concerned with the surge of cases of children under 10 getting pregnant,” said Chiwenga.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga to preside over the World Children's Day in Harare this evening. This year's theme amplifies the call for the respect for the rights of children with disabilities. @UNICEFZIMBABWE @johnmokwetsi pic.twitter.com/gnhVzE8xEF
— The News Report (@TheNewsReport_) November 21, 2022
Globally, an estimated 15 per cent of young women give birth before age 18.
Zimbabwe has had a high increase of child marriages and early pregnancies with authorities in the country saying more than a third of girls are married before the age of 18, and some are married before 15.
This year President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed into law the Marriages Act that prohibits the marriage of minors under the age of 18 and criminalises child marriages.
In 2018, about 3,000 girls dropped out of school because of pregnancies.
In 2019, that number remained relatively steady whilst in 2020, the number rose to 4,770.
The figure skyrocketed in 2020 to about 5,000 students got pregnant in the year’s first two months.