Zimbabwean police have charged a man after a 15-year-old girl died while giving birth at a church shrine last month.
Hatirarami Momberume, 26, has been charged with raping Anna Machaya, whose death provoked outrage in the country and was.
The girl’s parents, Edmore Machaya and Shy Mabika, have been charged with obstructing justice and falsifying identification documents to conceal their daughter’s age.
Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi confirmed that Anna died on 15 July and was buried at a shrine in the rural area of Marange, in eastern Zimbabwe. The police also said this week that the teenager’s name was not Memory, as had been previously reported.
“Investigations are in progress with a view of unravelling all the facts in this case,” read a police statement seen by the Guardian.
The 15-year-old’s death caused widespread outrage from Zimbabweans and the international community, with girls’ rights organisations calling for quick action to protect teenage girls from sexual predators.
Zimbabwe’s constitutional court bans marriage under the age of 18, but the UN says that one in three girls are still likely to be married before reaching that age.
According to Amnesty International,of maternal deaths in Zimbabwe occur among girls aged 15 to 19.
An online campaignis trending on Twitter in Zimbabwe, and a petition to stop child marriage has received more than 92,000 signatures so far.
Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, African Union goodwill ambassador on ending child marriage, told the Guardian: “I am angry and outraged because child rape and child marriage should have no place in our modern society. We have all the laws, and the knowledge to prevent [it]. It’s so painful that as a country, we have left this practice to fester unchecked.”
Gumbonzvanda called for swift action from authorities.