18+ Ending Child Marriage

In 2016 a landmark ruling led to a new law in Zimbabwe, aligning legislation with the new constitution, and making 18 the legal age for marriage. The necessity for such a law is highlighted by the fact that 3 out of every 10 girls in the country is married by their 18th birthday.

These images were taken on a one-day assignment for a Plan International campaign 18+ Ending Child Marriages in Zimbabwe that has worked with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development to eradicate child marriage and in so doing protect the rights of young girls’s to education, protection, economic engagement as well as reproductive health care.

All images © Davina Jogi/Plan Zimbabwe

This young woman was kicked out of her home at 13 and moved in with her boyfriend who she married two years later. The relationship turned abusive and four years and as many children later she left him, returning to her parents. "I feel heartbroken because he played with my life," she says.
She is now running a profitable business buying and selling clothes and other items but says she is willing to speak out against early and forced marriages to help others in the same situation, “I would tell them to go school. You become powerless if you don’t get any education."
Another young woman is pictured with her daughter at home in one of Harare's poor, high density suburbs. Research shows that the prevalence rate of child marriage is highest among girls with little or no formal education, and among households with the lowest income levels.
Although child marriage is seen as a way out of poverty, it actually worsens the cycle of intergenerational poverty since young girls lose the opportunity for education and personal advancement.
Household responsibilities often become overwhelming for young girls burdened by multiple roles they are too young to understand and many of these marriages are marred by physical, sexual and psychological abuse.
Infant mortality is higher among children born of young mothers and difficult labours are common for girls who are not yet fully developed. This woman explained that when she gave birth to the daughter she is pictured with, they had to assist her by pulling the baby out. She was physically, sexually and verbally abused by her husband on a daily basis.