A research by an international HIV and AIDS awareness think tank, has revealed child marriages are still a problem in Zimbabwe and stigmatisation attitude among school going children, prompting stakeholders to call for an awareness campaign to educate people on the dangers of the social ills.

A research by Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit at the University of Cape Town South Africa has shown that 33 percent of children in the country are getting married under the legal age of 18 while 42 percent of grade six pupils believe their peers diagnosed with HIV and AIDS should stop coming to school.

Speaking to ZBC News on the sidelines of celebrations to mark 15 years of their activities on sexual abuse and gender based violence in the country in Matobo district, country coordinator for Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI), Mrs Sibusisiwe Marunda told ZBC News that her organisation has partnered with government and some development partners to launch a massive awareness drive in communities.

The choice of having the celebrations in Matabeleland South Province was ideal as the area is one of the HIV and AIDS hotspots due to distant relationships as most men leave their wives in search of employment in neighboring countries, notes Matobo acting District Administrator Mr Obey Chaputsa.

Results from the World Health Organisation and Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHs) show that the HIV prevalence rate in the country declined from 18 percent to 14 percent over the past 10 years due to a number of intervention measures, but the number of child marriages is worrisome.