Zimbabwe (MNN) — Child marriage is an ongoing problem in Zimbabwe. One-third of girls across the country get married before their 18th birthday. Today, Simon Marijani – an Operation Mobilization USA partner – explains how the COVID-19 pandemic worsens this problem.
“We are currently in a lockdown, and this is where child marriages also begin to appear,” Marijani says.
“Vulnerable girls are not at school; they’re not playing; they’re [at] home. People who live in crowded situations [find] opportunities to do this (child marriage).”
Ask God to help believers protect young girls from harm. Keep reading to learn why child marriage problems continue and how believers work together to combat them. Support OM’s work in Zimbabwe here.
Three issues driving child marriage
As Girls Not Brides describes here, multiple unresolved factors keep child marriage alive and well in Zimbabwe. “The first is poverty,” Marijani says.
“Zimbabwe has been in [an] economic crisis since 2000, and every year seems to [get] worse. Daughters are married off to reduce the economic burden,” he continues.
Education is another contributing factor, with many girls leaving school before they graduate. “Some people consider them to be adults once they drop out of school,” Marijani adds, whether these young women are of legal age or not. Zimbabwe did not raise its age of consent to 18 years old until 2016.
With biblical discipleship, OM Zimbabwe combats a spiritual factor putting girls at risk.
“There’s an indigenous Apostolic Church which encourages girls as young as 10 to marry much older men. They do this because they would like to keep these young girls within their religious circles,” Marijani explains.
“They only read the Old Testament and they will point to the fact that, in the Old Testament, polygamy is allowed. People had concubines in the Bible. So, they will tell you that what they’re doing is aboveboard.”
Furthermore, senior members of this religious organization claim to be God’s agents. “They claim to be under some spiritual authority” that supersedes parents’ rights, Maijani says.
If you attend the so-called church and a leader wants to marry your underage daughter, “you are in no position to resist because the senior member is a so-called ‘prophet;’ they have authority over the parents so they cannot refuse.”
How to help end child marriage
In partnership with local churches, OM Zimbabwe missionaries combat these destructive practices with God’s Word. Support their efforts here by giving through OM USA. “OM provides Bibles and some OM members go to do Bible-based discipleship in this sector,” Marijani says.
Most importantly, pray. Use the prompts listed alongside this article to guide your intercession. “Pray for leaders in Africa. We need leaders who are God-fearing [and] respect the rights of people,” Marijani requests.
“Dictators and political leaders take advantage of the lockdown situation to crack down on all levels of dissent, so it [creates] more suffering.”
Header image courtesy of OM Zimbabwe via Facebook.