Published by ZHOCD Statement
Zimbabwe recently woke up to the shocking news of the 14 year old girl who had died on the 15th of July 2021 at the shrine of the Johani Marange whilst giving birth.
The story says Memory Machaya was married to a man almost three times her age when she was only 13!
It is also reported that there are many such child marriages that end up with the death of the girl child due to labour complications.
It is also shocking that this information is available to the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) who record these mortality figures annually.
It is more than three days since receipt of case has been acknowledged by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), but no arrest has yet been publicly announced. It is expected that by now ZRP should have the identity (of which identity has been displayed on social media in the public domain).
The 2013 Zimbabwe Constitution remains the highest custodian of the rights of children as espoused in section 19 read together with section 81 that gives an obligation to the state and its institutions to safeguard the best interests of the child at all times.
The Scriptures also show God’s concern for the vulnerable. Jesus calls for the children, as the symbols of the kingdom, to be protected (Matthew 18:3-5 NIV). He further promises eternal punishment for those who offend and scandalise children when He says (18:6), “If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who believe in me – to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung round their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
Our African culture understands the vulnerability of children and the need for their protection.
The suggestion that the perpetrator and his church are being protected because they command a large constituency and hence make up a large potential voters, is not only worrying but causes so much discomfort.
We are aware that women and girls remain vulnerable before religious figures whom they expect to provide them with spiritual support especially in a context of various needs.
We are concerned that so many cases involving popular religious men who have been accused of abusing women and girls have not resulted in a transparent investigations and prosecutions trail. In some instances, the result has been suspended sentences.
Many women who have reported cases of sexual abuse, it is alleged that they have been intimidated to withdraw their cases. This has created impunity for perpetrators of sexual abuse in the church and various organisations.
This is a far cry from the Zimbabwe We Want. The Zimbabwe <We Want is one where the state actively works towards promotion of the rights of all citizens and the church contributing in ensuring that there are necessary safeguards for women and girls from practises that harm them and jeopardise their well being and future.
In light of the gravity of the seriousness of Memory Machaya’s case and the many related cases of sexual abuse of women and girls, we as the Church call for the following actions:
- We seek to repent from such crimes perpetrated in the name of our faith.
- We totally reject the abuse of women and girls as a misrepresentation and perversion of the Christian faith.
- We call upon all churches to stop protecting perpetrators and report all forms of abuse of women and girls in their midst.
4) We call upon the ZRP to make public the process of investigation of Memory’s case including stating if the accused is arrested.
5) We are also calling for an independent national inquiry into sexual abuse of women and girls in general, but on abuse in the churches.
Justice for Memory Machaya is Justice for all women and girls subjected to sexual abuse in Church and the broader society.
“Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. 24 But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5: 23-24 (ESV)”