CHIPINGE – Child marriages are so accepted and such a normal way of life in Chipinge that counsellors sometimes have to run for dear life after being chased away by members of communities.
Family Aids Caring Trust programs officer, Chiedza Masvovere told a recent monthly Vic- tim Friendly Unit meeting held at Chipinge Magistrates Courts that some communities in Chipinge are so hostile against anyone who preaches against child marriages that they will chase you away.
Masvovere told the packed room of more than 60 stakeholders from Government arms, the Police, magistrates, Ministry of Health, churches, Ministry of Education and members of the public that workers working against child marriages in many parts of Chipinge are regarded as enemies because child marriages are a source of money or even food for the families that marry their underage girls.
She also said there are dire situations where the counsellors go in to help a child and they find that the mother of the child mother is her- self too young to even become a mother.
“So sometimes in our counselling processes we bring in the mother of the child mother to help us. However, that grandmother is herself even too young to become a mother,” said Mas- vovere.
The meeting was chaired by Chipinge regional magistrate Christopher Maturure.
A Police officer with Chipinge VFU Constable Shonhiwa said one of the reasons why child marriages continue to flourish is because there are no custodial sentences for most of the offenders.
“When the community sees an offender walk- ing back after being arrested they tend to take the offence lightly,” said Shoniwa.
Magistrate Maturure however, said the question of sentence is not at the discretion of the courts. He said that sentence for specific offences are prescribed and the magistrates have to follow that.
The meeting also heard that the communities in Chipinge including some schools protect offenders against the law. In the schools, teachers can advise a colleague to transfer to another area or resign and hence defeat the course of justice.#MasvingoMirror#