The Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) says the government should regulate churches to combat sexual offences against girls within some religious sects.
ZGC chairperson Margaret Sangarwe-Mukahanana said that although churches are currently voluntary organisations that are not regulated, there is a need for authorities to intervene to end the sexual abuse of minors. She said:
Churches are voluntary organisations and they are unregulated. There is no code of conduct which governs them, and it is difficult to monitor sexual offences at churches lest we are told that we are infringing on the fundamental rights of worship and association.
However, if we want to arrest the scourge of child marriages and sexual offences, there should be at least some regulations that govern churches.
Sexual offences at religious places such as Apostolic faith sect shrines and churches have been on the rise over the years.
Under the new Marriages Act, the minimum age of marriage is 18 years for both girls and boys. It is, therefore, a crime to marry off a child and anyone involved in that will be prosecuted.
According to a 2019 survey by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, 33% of women reported that they were married before reaching the adult age of 18.