Apostolic sects dragged into a�?Not Ripe For Marriage Campaigna��

Sesisa Gumede
RELIGION is the mother of all oppressors! Making reference to child marriages in Africa and beyond this line of thought may ring true bearing in mind that child marriages in religious groups like the apostolic sects have allegedly been rampant in Zimbabwe for decades.

This has seen a lot of civil society organisations go up in arms in a bid to rectify this wrong through various campaigns. One such campaign is the a�?Not Ripe For Marriage Campaigna�? which is meant to raise awareness that marrying off children is illegal and a violation of their rights.

Real Open Opportunities for Transformation (ROOTS) has decided to include male members from the apostolic sect who will also be part of the campaign where they will participate in radio and television talk shows and roadA�A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A�A� shows to give insights into the complexities around the issue of child marriages in their context.

a�?Child marriages are very common in the apostolic sects because most of the children do not go to school at an early age and they are then married off to polygamous marriages,a�? said a member of the apolistic sect who requested anonymity.

Notably, long periods in school mitigates against child marriages. The apostolic sects, which have splintered into various smaller groups over the years, find some of them rejecting Western values and this extends to institutions such as formal schools. However, with the evolution of time not all the sects still hold such values.

Another member of the apostolic sect said: a�?I do not know why people seem to concentrate more on the apostolic sects when this is a nationwide crisis, even in the traditional culture children get married off as well.a�?

The economic and socio-cultural conditions in Zimbabwe have often led to young girls being forced into marriage at an early age. Despite having a Constitution that states that the legal age of majority is 18, because of poverty and other factors, children in African societies end up getting married before the legal age.

The campaign will involve men as agents of change within their communities and promote behavioural change among their peers. It will also raise awareness on the perils of child and early marriage.

The broader goal of the project is to end child marriages in Zimbabwe and the expectedA�A�A�A� results are increased awareness on child marriages and consequent reduction of cases of child marriage.