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Zimbabwean Teen Teaches Taekwondo to Fight Child Marriage

This girl is amazing.

Featured image via Greg Willis/ GlobalCitizen

Whether it be for financial, societal, or religious reasons, it is common practice in Zimbabwe for girls as young as 10 to be forced into arranged marriages. This has been a reality for young girls dating back centuries, but now one teenage taekwondo enthusiast is fighting to create change.

Natsiraishe Maritsa has been practicing martial arts since she was five years old, and now she is 17 and ready to take it to the next level. Natsiraishe works with a team of amazing women and girls and spends her time teaching them the sport, with an emphasis on the self-defense aspect of it. She hopes to give them a fighting chance at life and an opportunity to escape the harsh reality of forced marriages that many girls face. 

A large number of girls and women, mostly Natsiraishe’s school friends and peers, gather outside her parents’ house in the small Epworth settlement to learn and practice the self-defence techniques that could potentially save their life one day. The group is made up of both single and married girls of a huge age range, with the youngest student being only 4 years old. 

Image via PxHere

But the classes are not only about kicking and sparring; after each session, the group sits down and has a healthy discussion about the dangers of child marriage. Natsiraishe prides the sessions on being a ‘safe space’ for both girls who are forced into marriages and girls who have anxieties around the subject. She said: “We are not ready for this thing called marriage. We are just too young for it. The role of teen mothers is usually ignored when people campaign against child marriages. Here, I use their voices, their challenges, to discourage those young girls not yet married to stay off early sexual activity and marriage”.

Sadly, it is not uncommon for child marriages to become abusive, both physically and verbally, and many sexual assaults and pregnancy-related issues occur. According to official Zimbabwean law, neither boys nor girls are allowed to marry until the age of 18 legally, but this does not stop the practice remaining widespread in the country’s poverty-stricken areas. The United Nations Children’s Fund has recently estimated that 30% of girls in these areas are forced into marriage before reaching 18. 

Image via FootshopTofs/ Pixabay

These numbers are certainly a harsh reality check, but the selfless work of people like Natsiraishe is truly making a difference to save young girls and allow them to determine their own fate. This week has also seen the FBI track down renowned child trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, find out more here….

Featured image via Greg Willis/ GlobalCitizen

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