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Don’t weaponise food aid against girl child – WCOZ warns

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Don’t weaponise food aid against girl child – WCOZ warns


Prisca Manyiwa-Masuku

KWEKWE – Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ) has called upon welfare organizations including Government to avoid weaponizing food aid because this will see an increase in sexual abuse and child marriages.
Speaking in an interview with The Mirror, WCOZ Kwekwe District chairperson, Rosewitte Matsveru urged welfare organizations to prioritise women and the girl child in food aid distribution.
She urged welfare organisations to neither politicise nor weaponize food against girls and women.
In Zimbabwe food aid is distributed along political lines with known opposition supporters blacklisted from Government aid.
“2024 is a difficult year for women, mothers and the girl child. The drought makes women and girls vulnerable to sex and child marriages respectively as they struggle to get food.
“We therefore urge authorities to come up with strict policies to protect the girl child in this difficult period.
“We already have cases of child marriages in our neighborhoods. With this drought it’s going to be worse and I am calling upon the Government and whoever is going to bring food to prioritize the girl child and women,” said Matsveru.
“We want all women regardless of their political affiliation to get food. Any partisan distribution will make women and girls vulnerable and they may be forced to offer sex in return for food,” she said.
Zimbabwe Association of Church related Hospitals (ZACH) representative in Kwekwe District Chamunorwa Marange expressed the same sentiments.
ZACH operates in Kwekwe District, giving a range of services to gender based violence survivors through their mobile One Stop Centers (OSCs) and at their main OSC at Kwekwe General Hospital.
“I would like to urge the girl child to protect themselves from these vultures that will abuse them in return for food aid. Girls must always remember that there is tomorrow for them,” said Marange.
He said that although his organization is carrying out a lot of awareness on such issue; many women will find it difficult to stick to advice because of the need for food.
“We are doing demand generation for One Stop Centre services and SASA dialogue meetings with communities linked to OSC outreach forums. They pretend to hear but they don’t practise it,” he said.
He called for more awareness on the new law that criminalises marriage to children under the age of 19.
“Child marriages cases are on the rise because most people do not know about this new law on marriages. Secondly the law is trying to de-construct an already existing culture of marrying young girls,” he said.

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