Crime & Courts

Nine-year old Zimbabwean girl gives birth to baby boy

The news that a nine-year-old girl from the village of Masekesa in Tsholotsho, Zimbabwe was hugely pregnant and had lately made headlines has been followed by the announcement that she has given birth to a son.

According to accounts from state-run media, the girl gave birth to a son early on Monday morning.

Nine-year old Zimbabwean girl gives birth to baby boy

She gives birth at the age of 18, making her the second youngest mother in the world.

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An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy is currently being carried out by officials from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare’s police department of social welfare.

The girl was reportedly receiving medical attention at the United Bulawayo Hospital when the reports were made.

Despite the fact that the authorities made repeated attempts to convince the girl to reveal the identity of the offender, the police were able to successfully arrest the girl’s father.

However, reports have indicated that the father, who is 29 years old, made a fantastic claim that goblins visited his daughter on the nights only when her mother was away and inserted things into her privates. This is according to the reports.

An estimated 15 percent of young women around the world give birth to their first child before the age of 18.

Authorities in Zimbabwe report that more than a third of girls are married before the age of 18, and some are married before the age of 15. This has led to an alarming rise in the number of child marriages and early pregnancies in the country.

The Marriages Act, which makes it illegal to marry a minor younger than 18 years old and makes it a crime to marry a child, was passed in 2018 and signed into law by Zimbabwe’s current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

In 2018, there were approximately 3,000 young women who quit school because they were pregnant.

In 2019, that number was reasonably consistent at about the same level; but, by 2020, it had increased to 4,770.

The number increased in 2020, reaching around 5,000 students who became pregnant in the first two months of the year.

Teenage pregnancy situation in Zimbabwe

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe and the subsequent implementation of the stringent 6-month lockdown, the country has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of teen pregnancies.

The day begins bright and early in Murehwa, a rural area of Zimbabwe, in a house with only two rooms. In a region that is approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, Virginia, who is 13 years old and a mother, lives with her parents.

When the mother’s infant, who is three months old, starts crying, she has very little time to comfort the child because she is also attempting to get the household tasks done. When the former student found out she was going to be a mother in January of 2021, her normal day-to-day activities were turned completely upside down. Virginia is forced to study independently and assist her younger siblings in getting ready for school while the rest of her former classmates are able to attend school.

She remembers the day in March 2021 when she decided to quit going to school: “My teacher came to my house to ask me, and I admitted that I was pregnant and not coming back to school, so she withdrew me from the school register.”

At least 5,000 young girls in Zimbabwean schools who became pregnant before they turned 18 did not attend classes in September of 2017, when schools were scheduled to reopen. There is a widespread consensus that the figures provided by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs are too low.

According to Virginia, she had hoped that the older man who was responsible for her pregnancy would eventually marry her. In the end, he contradicted his earlier statements and denied being the father. Despite the fact that the age of consent in Zimbabwe is 16, she and her family did not pursue a statutory rape case with the police. Zimbabwean law sets the age of consent at 16. Unfortunately, when her mother found out that she was pregnant, she reported the incident to the authorities; however, the man was allowed to go free on bond because the investigation was handled improperly.

Creating a brand new tomorrow

According to the government and non-governmental organizations, the steep increase in unintended pregnancies was caused by COVID-19-induced lockdowns. These lockdowns led to an increase in idleness and poverty, and they prevented many young women from gaining access to contraceptives.

“According to Taungana Ndoro, a Communications Director in the Primary and Secondary Education Ministry, we have had a significant number of young women become pregnant as a direct result of the lockdowns that were caused by COVID-19. But despite the fact that we have this policy, the Education Amendment Act, which enables them to return to school, we have been conducting community outreach programs across the entirety of the country to encourage these learners to return to school so that they can continue their education because it is not the end of the world.”

Despite the fact that a change in regulations made it possible for pregnant teenagers and moms to return to school in March of 2020, discrimination towards them remains widespread. In a clinic run by Medecins Sans Frontières, the non-governmental organization offers an option. Girls have the option of enrolling in programs that will teach them new skills.

“These life skills training is empowering these girls because now they are looking for empowerment capacity building so that they have, they get some money, after they are going to maybe to open some salons for pedicure and manicure or selling the liquid soap that they would have gotten training from here,” says Grace Mavhezha, a Field Communications Manager for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). Mavhezha is able to see the results of such programs because she works for MSF.

Learning new skills is one of the most common ways to assist pregnant women and new mothers in visualizing a better future for themselves and their children. Even while there are a lot of young girls who drop out of school with no intention of going back, there are some who have high ambitions, like Virginia has.

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