Housing and child marriage
May 30, 2016
The sad tale of families living in dilapidated buildings, squatter camps and overcrowded rooms without proper sanitation and lack of adequate access to basic services like water and electricity has characterized most urban and peri urban settlements in Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole. The perennial housing crisis has not only spared the people of Epworth, Dzivarasekwa, and Mbare only to mention just but a few to the above problems rather it has unearthed a new and even uglier monster child marriage.
The diminishing social values associated with overpopulation coupled by the over burden on scarce resources has led to the rise of child marriages in urban and peri urban areas. Most families have felt the hard pinch of the economic reality in Zimbabwe which has left most families struggling to make ants meat and forced to settle in overcrowded and overpopulated settlements. In one case study the Madura family of 5 have been living in one room for the past years in Epworth and have been forced by necessity to find innovate ways to divide and create space in the room which now they have resorted to use curtains which acts as their walls and doors, with the passing of time Mr Madura is now a concerned father as her once little young girls have come of age and Mr Madura is now worried about how he is going to manage the situation staying with 3 girls in one room also raising concerns on privacy.
Many children in urban and peri urban areas are being given little or no choice at all with regards to their future’s as the growing demands of the youth outweigh the available resources of most families who are literally living below the poverty datum line thus forcing young girls to look for marriage as an escape from poverty and the housing chaos
The overcrowded and overpopulated settlements have led to the diminishing social values in the communities with youths now being forced to stay away from the homes as it is usually overcrowded and with no suitable safe child friendly spaces in society the youths are easily persuaded into drug use and abuse or rather for the girl child increased interactions with potential perpetrators of child marriage.
The overcrowded households also expose young girls and boys to sexual interactions between their parents or one parent with multiple partners which sends the wrong message to young people as their standard value system is challenged also exposes them to try and experiment what they have seen and learned without clear knowledge of the consequences which usually results in the girl child suffering from unplanned pregnancies, being victims of child marriages and even sexually related diseases to mention just but a few
In a nutshell the issue of housing, needs to be addressed if sustainable gains are going to be achieved in the fight to eradicate child marriages as young people are continuously exposed to the risk to destructive vices whilst they are settling in unsuitable housing