A Zimbabwean teenager uses Taekwondo as a defence mechanism to combat child Marriage.

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Young girls all over the World are faced with a similar problem which is early child marriage.  Zimbabwe,is not left behind as some girls are forced into marriage as early as the age of 10. This could be  a means to alleviate poverty for their parents or for traditional reasons.Natsiraishe Maritsa,A Zimbabwean teenager is using the sport of taekwondo to give girls from a poor community a fighting chance to have a better life. She ventured into taekwondo,a Korean martial art at a very tender age.Maritsa’s group is called Vulnerable Underaged People’s Auditorium. She started the project in 2018 after her friends left school for marriage. Her goal is to build the confidence of both married and unmarried girls through the martial arts lessons and discussions. 15 students are admitted in each lesson.She holds taekwondo lessons in Epworth, where her parents reside. The area is about 15 kilometers south of the capital, Harare.In an interview granted to The Associated press, Maritsa said,“Not many people do taekwondo here, so it’s fascinating for the girls, both married and single,I use it to get their attention.We are not ready for this thing called marriage. We are just too young for it.I use their voices, their challenges, to discourage those young girls not yet married to stay off early sexual activity and marriage.From being hopeless, the young mothers feel empowered...being able to use their stories to dissuade other girls from falling into the same trap.The only support I get is from my parents.After class, my parents usually provide fresh juice and sweets." Maritsa said.Children as young as four follow her instructions to stretch, kick, strike and punch. After class, the group talks about the risks of child marriage.Newly married girls share their ordeal. One by one, they describe extreme abuse they have experienced in their marriages. They describe being raped and being hungry. Maritsa described the group as "safespace” for the girls to share ideas.Though the Zimbabwe law passed in 2016 kicks against child marriage(s) states that boys and girls cannot legally marry until they reach the age of 18. However,it is a cankerworm that has eaten deep into  the southern African nation.According to United Nations  Children's Fund report,30 percent of girls in Zimbabwe are married before they reach 18. Also,rising poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic has compelled parents around the world to marry off their young daughters.The ban on public gatherings has forced Maritsa to suspend her lessons, but she hopes to restart as soon as the country’s lockdown is lifted.

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