Zimbabwe: HIV+ Church Girl Awarded Custody of Baby

Zimbabwe: HIV+ Church Girl Awarded Custody of Baby

(THE HERALD) A ZAOGA church member who concealed her HIV status in order to marry has been awarded custody of her three-month-old baby whom she was forced to give up three days after birth.The woman had last week filed for custody of her child at the Harare Civil Court against her estranged husband. Magistrate Ms Olivia Mariga, in passing judgment, indicated that the mother was the natural custodian of the child especially as the child is three months old.

“Regardless of her status, she is the mother of the child. If the father objects to the child being breastfed, he should provide for the child,” she said.

In her evidence, the wife and mother told the court that she worked at the church premises when she met her future husband. The court heard that she knew of her HIV status but decided to keep it a secret until her boyfriend had had sexual intercourse with her.

“He pressured me into having sex and I failed to tell him the truth until I fell pregnant. I was sacked from my employment because it is church policy that one should not fall pregnant before marriage,” she said.

She told the court that she then married her husband in December while she was four months pregnant, but still she had not told him of her status.

“When I went to see my gynaecologist she suggested that I go for testing. I was found positive and my husband negative. He demanded that we go on separation because he could not stomach it and I decided to tell him the truth,” she said.

She gave birth while the parties were on separation and three days after giving birth he made her surrender the child to him.

“Initially I allowed him to take the child, but I asked where they were taking the child but he refused to say,” she said.

She added that she was later allowed access on appointment for not more than 10 minutes. Responding to the allegations, the husband, who was represented by his lawyer, told the court that the doctors advised the mother to avoid breast-feeding the child to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Categories: Africa

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