Meet the Zimbabwean Teen Using Taekwondo to Fight Child Marriage

As child marriage is on the rise across sub-Saharan Africa, a Zimbabwean teen is taking matters into her own hands to empower young women. Natsiraishe Maritsa, 17, founder of the Vulnerable Underaged People's Auditorium initiative, is using taekwondo to fight against child marriage in her small community outside of Zimbabwe's capital Harare. Among those attending are young mothers and girls who were forced into child marriages, a practice common across the country, where many under the age of 16 are married off by poor families who would otherwise struggle to provide for them. Zimbabwe outlawed marriage for girls under the age of 18 in 2016, but the practice has continued and become more acceptable in poorer communities. In April 2021, the government reported a major increase in teenage pregnancies, with advocates blaming it on Covid-19 lockdowns and poverty. Nearly 5,000 teenage girls became pregnant between January and February 2021 and about 1,800 entered early marriages during the same period, the government said.

InFocus

Seventeen-year-old Natsiraishe Maritsa, founder of the Vulnerable Underaged People's Auditorium Initiative, teaches her peers about the dangers of early pregnancy and early marriage and keeps them busy with martial arts.

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