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Zimbabwe should not Entertain debate on lowering age of Consent

03/08/2019

Padare/Enkundleni/Men’s Forum on Gender (Padare) strongly condemns efforts or debate to reduce the age of consent for sex from 16 years to 12 years.
The constitution of Zimbabawe Amendment (number 20) Act 2013 Section 81 (1) (e) states that anyone who is below the age of 18 is a CHILD so any sexual activity with such therefore is criminal and should be criminalised in the courts of law. The African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child also speaks to this issue on……
The Zimbabwean constitution was a result of a very long consultative process with contributions from a lot Zimbabweans. Instead of focusing on reducing the age of consent from 16 years to 12 years, the issue under discussion and needing urgent attention is the realignment of some of the current laws to protect young girls and boys in Zimbabwe.
Although, several researches and papers have been produced demonstrating that children below the age of 18 are already engaging in sexual activities, reducing the age of consent to 12 years can never be the solution. It is wrong, especially considering that those having sex with children below the age of 18 are mostly elderly men and women.
There is a name for such people. They are called paedophiles and it is our duty as responsible citizens, parents, guardians, brothers and sisters to ensure that our children are protected from paedophiles.
Although Padare agrees with statistics that show that young people, some as young as 12 or 13 years are engaging in sexual activities and that some of them are getting pregnant the organisation maintains that the age of consent should be increased to 18 years instead of being reduced to 12 years. This is because statistics that show prevalence are silent on the number of complications and difficulties resulting from young people engaging in sexual activity at such tender ages. One can mention unplanned pregnancies, child marriages, labour related challenges, mental health issues, and increases in school drop outs, HIV, STIs and many others.
When a problem occurs at a greater magnitude it does not necessarily mean that the problem should become the norm. Just because more and more young people are having sex it does not mean that the government and the people of Zimbabwe should abdicate their responsibility to protect the rights of these young people.
Padare strongly believes that the current conversation should be on, speeding up the realignment of the Marriage Act to Section 78 (1) (2) (3) of the Constitution to allow the law to correct the anomalies through criminalisation. As long as the re alignment is not done there will be an increase in (intergenerational sex), children engaging in sexual activity with older man and women with impunity.
Our organisation views efforts to reduce the age of consent to 12 years as harmful, dangerous and a pure violation of the rights of young people. We also see them as a diversionary tactic being used to delay the pending realignment of progressive laws that view everyone under the age of 18 years as a child to the Constitution.