Justice for Children (JCT) has commended Zimbabwe’s efforts to protect the rights of children, particularly through the Constitution.
JCT is a non-governmental organisation that was established in December 2002 as a trust and later registered with the Department of Social Services as a Private Voluntary Organisation.
Its formation resulted from the rising cases of child-headed families following the death of their parents and caregivers due to HIV/AIDS and the rising cost of legal fees, which they required to pursue their interests in the justice system, hence JCT was formed to provide these children with free legal service and improve enjoyment of rights and access to justice.
In a statement to commemorate the Day of the African Child which was held on June 16, JCT said it acknowledges and applauds the efforts made by the Government in enacting a progressive Constitution in 2013, which is in line with regional and international laws and policies, especially those focusing on child protection.
Further, JCT said it recognises the contribution of the judiciary, especially the superior courts, in shaping the discourse of children’s rights by upholding the spirit and purport of the Constitution through its landmark decisions in cases such as Mudzuru and Another vs the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and 2 Others CCZ-12-15 and Diana Eunice Kawenda V Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Anor CCZ/2022.”
JCT said through these progressive decisions, “we are assured that children are protected from child marriage and sexual exploitation.
“We further applaud the efforts of our policymakers in ensuring that our laws speak to the Constitution through amending and enacting new laws such as the Marriages Act, the Guardianship of Minors Amendment Act, and the Education Amendment Act among others.”
In addition, the JCT acknowledges the efforts of the civil society, traditional leaders, faith leaders, communities and the nation at large towards the fight in eliminating gender based violence and harmful cultural practices.
To this end, Zimbabwe is in the wake of a recent landmark Constitutional Court judgment aligning the minimum age of sexual consent to the legal age of marriage raising it from 16 to 18 years. Presently, JCT is currently implementing interventions that supports access to justice by survivors of sexual gender based violence with Government departments, in particular the Legal Aid Directorate and the Judicial Service Commission.
JCT is also implementing a Cyclone Ana intervention in Nyanga and Mutasa, in partnership with Chiedza Community Trust and Nyanga Community Development Trust where communities were affected by Cyclone Ana.
“These interventions include support to livelihoods and food, sanitation and hygiene including construction of houses affected by the Tropical (Cyclone) Ana as well as providing legal services to enhance their protection and access to legal, health and livelihoods services.”
JCT said June 16 allows them to take stock of the achievements resulting from the adoption of policies and practices aimed at elevating the lives of children and protecting their rights.
They also reflect on what needs to be done to effectively eliminate harmful cultural practices, affecting children in their daily lives.
“Harmful practices such as early marriages, virginity testing, genital mutilation and child pledging are serious violations of the rights of children that undermine their safety, dignity, health and wellbeing,” said JCT.