11 April 2022

ELIA NTALI

The Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) is set to conduct a multi-sectoral stakeholders’ inquiry on sexual exploitation and abuse of young girls including those in marriages. Speaking during a press briefing in Harare, Friday morning, ZGC chairperson Commissioner Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe said the inquiry was informed by the death of 15-year-old Anna Machaya who died in July last year whilst giving birth at a shrine in Marange. “Pursuant to its mandate, the Commission is conducting a multi-sectoral stakeholders’ inquiry on child marriages, sexual exploitation and abusive of young girls. This was largely informed by 15-year-old Anna Machaya’s unfortunate death on the 16th of July 2021 whilst giving birth. “This triggered the Commission into publishing a Government Gazette notice on the 24th of September 2021 signaling the Commission’s intention to launch a nationwide investigation and public inquiry on sexual exploitation and abuse of young girls including those with disabilities. “Through this process we will be hearing submissions from members of the public on the extent of the problem. We will also be summoning various state and non-state actors to appear before us and answer questions and present any evidence which will assist us in this endeavour,” said Commissioner Mukahanana. She said the inquiry which began in Harare this week will be shared across various media channels with the outcome to be presented to Parliament. “The inquiry started this week from April 4 to 8 April with closed hearings conducted with various stakeholders. These will be followed by provincial hearings starting with 5 spotlight provinces namely Harare, Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West and Matabeleland South from 8 May to 10 June 2022. “The outcome of the public inquiry will be a report directed to Parliament and other duty bearers for implementation in terms of Section 7 of the Zimbabwe Gender Commission Act (Chapter 10:31). The report will also proffer recommendations on both policy, legal interventions and other practical measures to curb child marriages. The report will guide on policy formulation, reviews and reforms to laws and practices with the view to address the problem,” she added. Commissioner Mukahanana said the process is being supported financially and technically by the United Nation Development Program (UNDP), the United Nation Women and under the Spotlight Initiative which is a global partnership to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls being funded by the European Union.

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