As a young woman who was once twelve (12) years old, I am disappointed in our courts, disappointed is an understatement, my heart is bleeding. In an era where the buzz word is gender equality and protection of young girls and women, we have our ‘saviors’ turning against us. The supreme law of the land has rejected the Zimbabwean young girl by failing to protect her rights. The post 2015 development agenda goal number 5 clearly talks of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. Goal number 16 reads to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Zimbabwean courts seem to be fighting against this agenda instead.
At 12 I knew nothing about sex, seduction or screaming. I was a late bloomer which is the case with many other young girls. I did not have breasts although I placed peach fruits after school during house play time. I never imagined the possibility of being thought of as an adult, let alone one who can make sexual decisions. At 15 I had pimples, low self esteem and still even at that age never thought about seduction. While some of my age mates were already dating, it was the innocent, letter writing and the kissing is disgusting kind of dating.
So what is this we hear that a 12 year old can make sexual decisions? Ok maybe they can, but this is a young 12 year old mind disturbed by whatsapp audios, videos and x-rated television channels with the desire to experiment. Those who have daughters and young sisters and care about girls in general will know the kind of girl who is 12 years old. She is totally incapable of being identified as a sexual adult!
Let us let young girls be girls. I have little understanding of the law in general, thanks to people like Rumbidzai Dube it will be soon be simplified on their website for everyone to understand. In my little understanding, I have picked that the constitution which set the age of consent at 16, overrides all laws. Therefore where is the confusion? Are our good Judges’ blind sighted? Why are they working against the precepts of a progressive society?
Mind you, this is not only a consent issue; this is how we promote child marriages, maternal death and mortality, this is how we increase HIV and Aids infections and destroy the education of girls. This is how we promote poverty! The Herald has reported on how parents are now opting to settle with the perpetrators’ families. We are giving power to perpetrators to abuse young girls and obliterate any good future they would have had. This is a fast track on the road to the humiliation of the girl child; the Chronicle article had me and everyone else with concern for young girls in deep mourning.
Stop it we say. Stop abusing the girl child. Give her the space to be a child, grow, mature and then decide to be a woman. If the law does not protect her then who will?
May our society be smart about the choices being made today for future generations.