Zimbabwe joins global campaign against gender-based violence amid child marriage increase

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HARARE, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe on Thursday joined the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) to launch a 16-day campaign against gender-based violence (GBV) as the country witnessed an increase in child marriages.

A safe market space and a one-stop center were set up in Epworth, a suburb of Harare, at the launch of the campaign themed "End Violence Against Women Now: No to child marriages."

As a global strategy to tackle GBV, the campaign runs from Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls, and ends on Human Rights Day on Dec. 10. It is a global demonstration of solidarity in eliminating violence against women and girls, calling for collective action from governments, citizens, civil society organizations and the private sector.

The safe market model is one of the many programs across the country the UN has built through its partnership with the EU under the Spotlight Initiative.

Since the launch of the Spotlight Initiative in 2019, some 3.8 million beneficiaries in Zimbabwe, including 2.3 million women and girls, have received various services, the UN said.

According to the Research and Advocacy Unit, an independent non-governmental organization based in Harare, 31 percent of girls in Zimbabwe are married before the age of 18 and 4 percent are married before their 15th birthday, despite the fact that Zimbabwe has criminalized all marriages below the age of 18.

The COVID-19 pandemic and protracted national lockdowns have compounded the challenge of child marriages in the country.

"The COVID-19 crisis has also resulted in increased school dropouts, resulting in increased early marriages and a consequent alarming increase in teenage pregnancies," a statement released by the UN office in Zimbabwe on Thursday said. Enditem

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