Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
WOMEN within the apostolic sects have formed an organization to educate their male counterparts on child marriage and access to prenatal care, among other issues.
The Apostolic Women Empowerment Trust (AWET) was formed by women worried at the height of rampant child marriages and other similar cases within the church.
AWET has over 40 branches across the country.
Speaking at a recent workshop organized by the Family Aids Care Trust (FACT) in Kwekwe, the AWET focal point in the city, Madzimai Mufaro Mangwiro said the era of child marriage is over.
“Gone are the days when an old man wakes up claiming to have dreamed of a woman.
We are working to end these norms that threaten to annihilate the current generation of girls,” she said.
“We decided to start the organization after realizing that we needed to educate our male counterparts about marriage with underage girls, so that a guy could just say I dreamed about this girl and he’s got it. spouse.
“We strive to educate them about the dangers they face doing this.”
Madzimai Mangwiro said AWET has made progress in convincing women within the church to access prenatal and antenatal care.
“We are struggling to try to convince our female colleagues to come to clinics and health facilities when pregnant instead of giving birth in homes, which exposes them to a number of dangers.
We are trying to end these practices,” she said.
Madzimai Mangwiro said they still faced resistance from some sections of the church who felt they should not give up on the “tradition” of their church.
“We still face resistance from men and women who think the way of doing things within the church is the best way.
However, we are not giving up and we will continue to fight until we win the war,” she said.
“It’s not easy to convince people to give up their way, it takes time but we will eventually get there.”
Apostolic sects took center stage last year after a 13-year-old girl died while giving birth at an apostolic shrine in Marange Manicaland province.
Since then, cries have escalated for cult interventions to stop marrying underage girls.
Meanwhile, speaking at the same reception, Ms Pretty Ncube of the Zimbabwe Association of Church Linked Hospitals (ZACH) said cases of child marriages remain high in Kwekwe district despite the fact that the age of consent was changed from 16 to 18 by the Supreme Court.
“We have not yet seen the results according to the statistics that we receive.
It may take time and a lot of awareness for people to understand the dynamics of what exactly is going on and what it means,” she said.
Mrs. Ncube implored the men to refrain from abusing underage girls.
The government has since declared war on child marriages as they threaten to wipe out the current generation.
FACT implements a project to empower adolescent girls to find solutions to the barriers they face in accessing care and treatment services.
The program is implemented in Kwekwe, Umguza, Umzingwane and Chimanimani.