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Rights Groups Applaud Harare’s Move to Protect Girls

The U.N.’s Children’s Fund commended Zimbabwe for raising the age of sexual consent to 18 years, a move that children’s rights groups hope will deter paedophiles. President Emmerson Mnangagwa used a statutory instrument to raise the age of consent from 16 to 18 years in the Southern African nation. Violators could spend 10 years in jail. Ekenia Chifamba, a director of the girls’ rights group Shamwari Yemwanasikana, said she hopes the change will deter paedophiles. “We were disgruntled in instances where we would see perpetrators’ penalties that were not favourable — some of them being given community service — while the girl would have to deal with key issues that mattered, which included their health,” Chifamba said. Some girls would go for “backyard abortions,” she said, while others struggled with their mental health.