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by Paidamoyo Chipunza 11/03/19

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care has denied ever proposing that the minimum legal age of sexual consent to be revised downwards to 12 from 16 years, amid massive criticism from different organisations and individuals.Some women organisations were even planning to petition the committee against this move. In an interview with The Herald, the committee’s chairperson Dr Ruth Labode said issues that were brought to the fore at a gathering recently held in Kadoma were to do with access to reproductive health services for girls below the current age of sexual consent.Dr Labode said the current law required girls below the age of 16 years to be accompanied by either of their parents or legal guardian for them to access sexual and reproductive health services. She said this scenario, therefore creates complications for access to sexual and reproductive health services by girls below the age of sexual consent as it discourages them from getting medical assistance, leading to illegal abortions, unwanted pregnancies and in some cases early marriages, among other issues. Dr Labode said the committee is also aware that the age of sexual debut in Zimbabwe is as low as nine years.