Between January and February, almost 5,000 teenage pregnancies were recorded in Zimbabwe and nearly 2,000 girls under the age of 18 were married. According to the World Bank, the country’s youth fertility rate has declined in recent years, but there are concerns that the pandemic will reverse the trend. To address the problem, MPs and civil society groups have suggested that children under the age of 16 should be given contraception and access to abortion services without parental consent. The minimum age in Zimbabwe is 18 years. The proposal was rejected by Constantino Chiwenga, Zimbabwe’s Vice-President and Minister of Health, who said: “Since a child under 16 cannot in practice consent to intercourse, it is assumed that a child under 16 does not need contraception. “Emergency contraceptives are viewed as a form of medical treatment and therefore those under the age of 16 would need parental consent to use them in practice.” While Chiwenga’s words have found widespread support in Zimbabwe’s largely conservative society, where sex is a taboo subject, health workers and teachers say a solution needs to be found.


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