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Zim Teen Uses Martial Arts to Empower her Peers

Natsiraishe Maritsa is a spunky Zimbabwean 17-year old girl and has been a martial arts fan since the age of five. Today, she uses her passion for Tae Kwon Do — which she instructs in her parents’ yard in Epworth settlement about 15 kilometres southeast of the capital Harare, to rally young girls and mothers to join hands in the fight against child marriage in the country. Although Tae Kwon Do is not very popular in Zimbabwe, whose natives typically have a preference for soccer, there are still pockets of professional and backyard training schools. In spite of her limited resources, the dedicated teen is committed to her mission. Child marriage — which women’s rights groups warn keeps young girls away from school and deepens poverty, is still an issue on the African continent. The rising economic challenges brought on by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have increased pressures on families to marry off their young daughters as a way to cope financially.