Unveiling the Dark Truth: Exploitation of Young Girls in Zimbabwe’s Mining Communities

By Davison Marenga –

In the heart of Mutoko, a district known for its vast mineral wealth, a troubling trend has emerged. Reports from the recent District Alternative Mining Indaba held in Mutoko convened by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), and The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) have shed light on a disturbing increase in the exploitation of young girls in rural mining communities.

Mine workers, capitalizing on the desperation caused by drought, are enticing vulnerable girls with trinkets, perpetuating a cycle of manipulation and abuse. The Indaba revealed a stark reality – the absence of clear regulations governing artisanal mining has left children at the mercy of exploitation, with little protection from parents, lawmakers, or law enforcement.

This issue is not isolated to Mutoko alone; it plagues mining communities nationwide where artisanal mining thrives. Shocking statistics indicate that one in every four young women in Zimbabwe faces a high risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, with even greater odds for those already living with HIV.

The Mutoko community is grappling with the repercussions of this exploitation, as communicable diseases spread unchecked, believed to be exacerbated by mine workers engaging in relationships with underage girls.

Tichatonga Nyangu, a concerned resident, lamented the detrimental impact of the lithium rush and influx of Chinese companies, leading to a surge in girls dropping out of school as they are always caught in the traps of these miners leaving a number of them impregnated and nursing the wounds of sexually transmitted diseases.

“Most mine workers who come here do not come with their families, they end up taking advantage of local women, especially the young girls. Since the lithium rush and the pouring of Chinese companies, we have seen a rise in girls dropping out of schools”, he said.

Despite the rich deposits of black granite that have been mined since 1972, Mutoko remains entrenched in poverty. The district’s 9 communal wards, heavily reliant on agriculture for sustenance, face recurrent droughts that exacerbate their economic hardships. The situation has been further exacerbated by the El-Nino-induced drought that has hit the country this farming season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

@2023 | ZCC | All Rights Reserved