Zimbabweans have been urged to shun practices that disregard the rights of children amid calls for stiffer penalties for perpetrators of child abuse.

Over a thousand people gathered a Buwerimwe Secondary School in Mutare West for the belated day of the African Child commemorations where the youths staged various performances that celebrate African cultural values and the need to protect the rights of children.

Mutare West junior member of parliament, Honourable Comfort Mbaradza who was guest of honour at the commemorations said early child marriages and sexual abuse lead the list of challenges affecting children and are counter-productive to the attainment of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development for children in Africa.

The Manicaland Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Cde Mandi Chimene said the African society should accord children their deserved rights while the children should take pride in their progressive cultural values.

Zimbabwe is far ahead of other countries in terms of providing education as a basic right for all, said Mutare West member of parliament and Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Cde Chris Mushowe who castigated  practices by some religious groups and traditionalists who promote dehumanising practices such as sexual abuse and forced marriages among other vices.

He said society should consider extreme deterrent measures such as castration of child abuse perpetrators among other solutions.

The Day of the African Child is commemorated on the 16th of every June following the massacre of children in Soweto who demonstrated against unfair educational practices by the apartheid regime in South Africa.