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HomenewsUNICEF Commends Zimbabwe for Raising Legal Consent Age for Sex

UNICEF Commends Zimbabwe for Raising Legal Consent Age for Sex


The U.N.’s Children’s Fund commended Zimbabwe Monday for raising the age of sexual consent to 18 years, a move that children’s rights groups hope will deter pedophiles.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa used a statutory instrument to raise the age of consent from 16 to 18 years in the Southern African nation. Violators could spend 10 years in jail.

Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF’s Zimbabwe representative, in Harare on Jan. 16, 2024, said the newly raised age of consent will help protect adolescent girls. (Columbus Mavhunga/VOA)

UNICEF’s Zimbabwe representative, Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale, welcomed the change.

“This legislation has come to complement the amendment to the Marriages Act that prohibits the marriage of anyone less than age of 18,” he said. “We as UNICEF see these two legislations as critical legal instruments that will come toward ensuring that our children, especially the adolescent girls, are safe and protected.”

Ekenia Chifamba, a director of the girls’ rights group Shamwari Yemwanasikana, said she hopes the change will deter pedophiles.

“We were disgruntled in instances where we would see perpetrators’ penalties that were not favorable — some of them being given community service — while the girl would have to deal with key issues that mattered, which included their health,” Chifamba said.

Some girls would go for “backyard abortions,” she said, while others struggled with their mental health.

Some girls have to drop out of school after becoming pregnant, as most learning institutions in Zimbabwe do not accept expecting mothers as students.



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