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and comments on apostolic faith churches' health policy
Makoni, Director - Girl Child Network
May 06, 2005
Marriage of Girls in Some Apostolic Sects Is an Emergency"
Girl Child Network
would like to welcome the recently and widely media publicized proposed
Health Policy by the leaders of the Apostolic Faith Churches (Herald
of 4 May 2005 and the ZBC news bulletin). However, the government,
other churches, NGOs should speedily come aboard and save many girls
from early forced marriages and virginity testing. Of late Girl
Child Network is concerned with the increasing number of girls escaping
forced marriages from especially Johanne Marange Apostolic Faith
church. Recent media reports n the Herald carried out a story of
an eleven year old girl who was married off by church elders because
during virginity testing exercise they found her sexually abused.
- Whereas Apostolic
churches are set to revise their health policy, Girl Child Network
appeals to government to make the issue of early marriages an
issue as enshrined in the Child Sexual Offences Act. Many girls
under 16 years especially in the Johanne Marange church are at
risk of developing cancer or HIV and AIDS or both if the health
policies in the country are not implemented to the full. Our experience
on the ground paints a sorry sight where women and girls are found
in sexual slavery and they toil and labour daily to fend for children.
- Most girls
in some apostolic churches end their education at grade 7. Even
if the health policy was to be in place, the Education policy
in the Apostolic churches leaves a lot to be desired. GCN calls
upon the churches to consider education as key to the future development
of women and the churches should prioritise this.
- Girl Child
Network is concerned about the number of girls married under the
guise of religion. Most young girls are forcibly married off to
older men and recently we had scores of girls escaping their homes
for safe shelter from places like Bocha, Macheke and Mutasa, just
to mention a few.
of such a health policy needs to integrate with government policies
which over ride any policy. It is regrettable that Zimbabwe has
allowed church policies that allow marrying off of girl children
as young as 11 years to older men, given the rampant child sexual
abuse in the country. The repercussions of early marriages are
a health time bomb which, as a country need to be managed now
and in the near future. No religious or cultural policies or laws
should over-ride government policy. To that end GCN calls upon
police and other law enforcement agents to ensure that the Children’s
Protection and Adoption Act, Sexual Offences Act and many other
laws that protect children from any sexual activities that are
harmful are implemented in the best interest of the children.
- Girl Child
Network calls upon all stakeholders to come aboard and take sexual
abuse of young girls in Apostolic churches to be an emergency
as many of the girls we have interacted with demonstrate ill health
and with their situation perpetuated by poverty and closely guarded
from the public eye by patriarchy and cases of rape guised in
church marriages rampant and encouraged and supported by church
- Whereas the
health policy is negotiable, sexual abuse of girls under the guise
of religion is not negotiable and should be prevented and totally
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Child Network fact
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