A report by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development presented in parliament last week placed Masvingo province on third place on teenage pregnancies and fifth on child marriages.
Masvingo province recorded 61 cases of teenage pregnancies and 49 child marriages in January and February alone.
In an interview with TellZim News, Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) provincial marketing and communications officer Herbert Chikosi said the recordings were not shocking as the Covid-19 pandemic affected major programming areas like education.
Chikosi said his organization played a key role in containing the figures by bringing sex education to the people during lockdown.
Chikosi said the cases would have been much higher were it not for his organisation’s concerted efforts through the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE).
“It’s not really shocking because Covid-19 affected programming and key partners like education which was greatly immobilised, thus creating a gap both in delivery and sustenance against fractured community with limited information on CSE.
“It could have been even worse if it wasn’t for ZNFPC and the media which amplified CSE information”, said Chikosi.
He said parents’ lack of sex education was a cause of concern as they could not fill in the role played by educators at school on issues to do with sexuality which resulted in pregnancies.
“Parents’ lack of comprehensive sexuality education is also manifesting through these pregnancies, however going forward we have invested in strengthening parent to child communication”, said Chikosi.
Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) Masvingo provincial coordinator Belinda Mwale said the Covid-19 induced lockdown contributed more to the teenage pregnancies and child marriages due to idleness.
She said it was imperative that Sexual Reproductive Health Rights Education (SRHRE) reach young people.
“As women’s coalition we strongly condemn the current state of affairs as it shows that the lockdown has adversely affected teens.
“Idle minds contributed to immature sexual engagement and there is need to bridge the gap in terms of Sexual Reproductive Health Rights Education targeting adolescent girls and young women,” said Mwale.
Zimbabwe recorded 4 959 teenage pregnancies between January and February and 1 774 child marriages between the same period.
On teenage pregnancies, Mashonaland Central tops the list having recorded 4 475 teenage followed by Matebeleland South with 290 cases.
On child marriages, Mashonaland Central also tops the list having recorded 1 436 cases followed by Mashonaland West with 85 cases and Midlands on third place with 74.