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But there are now growing epidemics among key populations who are at higher risk of HIV.5 National data on these populations is sparse.VICE PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa says government was in the process of introducing a law that would see the statutory age of consent to sex by girls raised from 16 to 18 years.He was responding to calls by Senators on Tuesday that the minimum age one could be allowed to consent to sex should be aligned to a 2016 Constitutional Court ruling which outlawed the marriage of or among minors below 18.More than half of all sex workers in Zimbabwe are living with HIV with a last recorded prevalence of 57.1% in 2016.5 This is concerning in an environment where condoms are being confiscated and gender inequality makes condom negotiation difficult."Those issues we have debated and we believe that we should bring up also the age of consent to the age of 18.

Of course, this is subject to debate when it comes to Parliament." Mnangagwa said his ministry was in the process of aligning all the marriage laws and the progressive provisions of the SADC Model law he said will be incorporated in the comprehensive proposed Marriages Bill. Distributed by All Africa Global Media (all Africa.com).

"As a result, there is some contradiction where early marriage is 18 years yet the consent to sexual activity is 16 years.

We need to align these laws." Mnangagwa, who was speaking as the country's justice minister, said government was considering raising the age of consent to 18.

As a consequence of this punitive law, national statistics are rarely available.

Criminalising men who have sex with men drives this vulnerable group away from HIV services.

The proposed Bill will be able to amend the Marriages Act and the Customary Marriages Act and all other laws that are outdated in relation to marriages. To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.