A local Non-Governmental Organisation, Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT) is in the process of undertaking research into child marriages covering women and girls with disabilities.
Speaking to The Humanitarian Post recently, DZT executive director, Barbara Nyangairi said the enquiry was motivated by the realisation that most researches on the subject have been biased on the able bodied.
“The child marriages debate has for a long time left out children with disabilities. While a lot of work has been done on child marriages in Zimbabwe, little remains known on how children with disabilities have been affected by child marriages,” she said.
Nyangairi bemoaned that this is despite sexual and gender based violence being prevalent among women and girls with disabilities in particular the deaf.
“Sexual violence has profound effects on mental and physical health, access to post rape care and counselling is problematic for girls and women with disabilities. There is little research in Zimbabwe on child marriages among girls with disabilities, sexual violence and the intersection between child marriages and other forms of SGBV,” Nyangairi said.
Due to this gap, the dearth in research has meant that interventions on child marriages have excluded girls with disabilities highlighting that children with disabilities have been silent in the child marriage agenda.
“So exclusion of children with disabilities in the local, regional child marriages discourse results in increased vulnerabilities as they are left outside interventions for protection and prevention of child marriages,” she said.
The DZT executive director described people under this cluster as being more vulnerable due to poverty, lack of education, parental and family neglect as well as general perceptions of lack of value of this category of women.
Social stigma and negative perceptions of disability makes children with disabilities difficult to reach out to due to inadequacy of information on child marriages for girls with disabilities.
Through this project DZT seeks to ensure inclusive interventions for children marriages in Zimbabwe that take into account the needs of children with disabilities.
Deaf Zimbabwe Trust is a voluntary organization that promotes the rights and interest of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) people in Zimbabwe. Deaf Zimbabwe Trust was formed and registered as a trust in 2012 and began operations in 2013. Initially the organisation was formed to advance the rights of Deaf children.
After wide consultation, the leadership of DZT realised that Deaf adults had a lot of challenges and very little was being done to help them achieve their potential. As a result of this realisation, Deaf Zimbabwe Trust reconfigured its activities to include all the Deaf in Zimbabwe. Deaf Zimbabwe Trust is registered as a Trust.