Zim teen uses taekwondo lessons to help fight against child marriages
CAPE TOWN - Zimbabwean teenager Natsiraishe Maritsa is teaching young girls taekwondo as her contribution towards the global effort to curb child marriages.
According to The Associated Press, in Zimbabwe girls as young as 10 are forced to marry due to poverty or traditional and religious practices.
Maritsa, 17, who has been a martial arts fan since the age of 5, says learning taekwondo gives girls in her community a fighting chance at life.
“Not many people do taekwondo here, so it’s fascinating for the girls, both married and single. I use it to get their attention,” AP quoted Maritsa as saying.
She teaches children as young as four, as well as some of her former schoolmates who are now married.
The sessions take place outside her parents’ home in the Epworth settlement, about 15 kilometres (nine miles) southeast of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare.
1/2 In Zimbabwe, 34 per cent of women are married by age 18, and 4 per cent are married by age 15. Child marriage predominantly affects girls in the poorest wealth quintiles in rural areas. https://t.co/UiVlze7enx— Natsiraishe Maritsa (@taekwondokidzw) December 30, 2020
After each taekwondo session, the girls talk about the dangers of child marriage. They discuss how their marriages have turned into bondage, including verbal and physical abuse, marital rape and pregnancy-related health complications.
Through her classes, conducted under the auspices of an association called Vulnerable Underaged People’s Auditorium, Maritsa hopes to boost the confidence of both married and single girls.
“We are not ready for this thing called marriage. We are just too young for it,” she told AP.
The sessions are a safe space for the girls, Maritsa says. During them, she discourages those who are not yet married against early sexual activity and marriage. The trick is for them to find ways of occupying themselves productively.
The bigger plan is to keep young girls occupied & stay away from sexual activities. It is imperative to understand that young people are iddle they have nothing to do. Sexual activities & drug abuse becomes the order of the day. By training taekwondo we keep the girls occupied https://t.co/6j6Qi54VLh pic.twitter.com/gvoqnPknPN— Natsiraishe Maritsa (@taekwondokidzw) December 30, 2020
“It is imperative to understand that young people are iddle (SIC) they have nothing to do,” Marista posted on her Twitter profile.
“Sexual activities & drug abuse becomes the order of the day. By training taekwondo we keep the girls occupied.”