A survivor of forced child marriage in a rural Apostolic sect shares her horrifying experience with the Manica Post, illustrating some of the devastating consequences that flow from the harmful cultural practices of forced and early marriage:
I was 14 years when my father married me off to Mashamba, a churchman… That man is old enough to be my father, but he was determined to have a minor like me for a wife. I could not stomach being forced into a romantic relationship with such a man who has lost all his teeth due to old age… Mashamba ordered me to go into the bedroom and sleep with him. Being a child who knew nothing about men, Mashamba undressed me and pushed me on the bed…and eventually got on top of me to force penetration. Being scared, I screamed and he released his grip. He was infuriated by my actions and he started beating…me. I was injured on the back. He wanted to force himself on me, but I resisted. I pushed open the door and got out of the house naked. This happened every night for the two months that I was under his custody. He would end up beating me, forcing me to flee from the house… I resorted to taking refuge in a nearby forest… He reported the incident to my father and I was thoroughly beaten. The next day I was given the same room to sleep with him, I resisted his sexual advances and woke up early and ran away from our home. My grandmother gave me $5 for bus fare to Mutare, where [Mr. Chidowe] helped me by reporting the case to the police. They took care of me and sent me back to school. I am an isolated case because I had the rare guts to fight the injustice, and was lucky to escape…the rapist. Many unfortunate girls are dying in silence and someone must come to their rescue.
According to Manica Post, police have launched an investigation into the matter – Mashamba faces charges of sexual abuse and the girl’s father faces physical abuse charges.
READ MORE: GIRL MARRIED OFF AT 14: Her father was paid $70 as lobola, Manica Post (January 10, 2012).