More than 500 women from different apostolic sects converged at Mkoba Teachers’ College at the weekend to tackle the problem of child marriages within their denomination.
The two-day conference, organised by the Apostolic Women Empowerment Trust (Awet), urged congregants to unite and end child marriages. The conference, which ended yesterday, was running under the theme, Apostolic Women Unite Against Child Marriage. Awet national co-ordinator, Tendayi Gudo, said the apostolic sect had always been accused of promoting child marriages, hence, their decision to converge and demystify the misconception.
“The apostolic sect has been associated with a lot of bad publicity especially on child marriages, child abuse, not being educated and being the poorest people in society,” she said.
“We are trying to break those prejudices, so as to empower and impart gender equality within the apostolic churches.
“Child marriage violates the fundamental human rights of girls and boys, but disproportionately affects girls denying them their right to a consensual marriage, as well as their right to an education, protection, economic engagement and reproductive health care.”
In January this year, the Constitutional Court outlawed child marriages and struck off section 22(1) of the Marriage Act, which, for decades, had allowed children under the age of 18 to formally get married.
The ruling was triggered by an application filed by two Harare women, Loveness Mudzuru (19) and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi (18), who approached the court through their lawyer, Tendai Biti, challenging the Customary Marriages Act.
They argued it infringed on the constitutional rights of young girls and boys who were getting married at an early age.