Young women have called for the government to align the age of sexual consent with the child protection act.
This they said is due to the fact that children at the age of 16 are not yet mature enough to make sound decisions about what they think is right for their lives.
“If the constitution says a person under the age of 18 is considered to be a child then how is it that child has the ability to consent to sex,” said Hazel Jojo a student at the University of Zimbabwe.
She added that other than maturity those between the ages of 16 and 18 lacked the knowledge on what they are giving consenting to.
Nkanyezi Xaba, a lawyer from Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association said even when dealing with cases legally anyone below the age of 18 has no legal capacity.
“This then alludes that before 18 one is incapable of making legally binding or life changing decisions. For instance one is not permitted to sell alcohol to a person under 18 and l assume the reasoning behind this is because minors are deemed to be incapable of handling alcohol or its effects thereafter. One then wonders how a 16 year old is expected to be capable of making sound decisions or judgement when it comes to consenting to sex,” added Nkanyezi Xaba.
Ayanda Tshabangu, a resident from Selborne Park said at 16 kids will be too young and it is at this age that they are trying to deal with peer pressure and make critical decisions concerning their lives. She added that the age of consent should in fact be 21.
Hazel however added that the age to access sexual and reproductive health information, education and services must be further reduced, even up to the age of 14 so that even if they want to give consent they do so from an informed perspective.
“Some might be of the view that it does not matter, but once the law supports the age of 16 or below it becomes dangerous for all children and institutions will fail to protect these children because they already will be exposing them to things like abuse and harassment,” said Tatenda Mavhiki a tertiary student.