Walking along first-street in Harare's central business district, one is occasionally accosted by dirty children holding begging bowls. Usually accompanied by their parents or guardians, the children will accept anything from money to food.

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Widespread poverty, a lack of social services and poor enforcement of legislation are hindering efforts to eradicate child labour in Zimbabwe.

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It’s an election year once again. To politicians it means way up the ladder to the political office and all its benefits. To children it means parents being beaten up or killed; health and rights being violated and the minors being made even more vulnerable to political exploitation than in previous years.

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Poverty, abuse and cultural practices are preventing a third of Zimbabwean girls from attending primary school and 67 percent from attending secondary school, denying them a basic education, according to a recent study which found alarming dropout rates for girls.

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Children from across the country have called on the government to be more responsive and proactive in addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), who are among the most affected by the collapse in the provision of social services.

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Orphans and vulnerable children from more than 80,000 households in Zimbabwe are set to benefit from a three-year government and donor-funded programme to cushion them from the worst effects of poverty.

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Tens of thousands of Zimbabwean orphans and otherwise vulnerable children will benefit from cash transfers, educational aid and protection services under a new Government programme launched in partnership with the United Nations and international donors.

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There is nothing as painful as watching a child withering away with an illness which could have been easily avoided. But pregnant mothers still deny their children the right to live a healthy life by refusing to get tested for HIV and Aids early.

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At least 100 girls in Zimbabwe are sexually abused everyday but not many of these cases are being reported because of various social, cultural, religious and political reasons.

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"Staying in a border town is a horrible experience for children who have lost both parents and are living in poverty. "There are too many nightclubs and bars and as such girls as young as 14 years are forced to engage in different activities that include prostitution and drug abuse.

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