Zimbabwean court criminalises Under-18 marriages

January 22, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Mathew Masinge

Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court has outlawed the practice of marriage for minors under the age of 18, a ruling channeling progress towards ending child marriage in Southern Africa.

The Constitutional Court in the capital, Harare granted a final word after two women, Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi pleaded a case against the government because their poverty and lack of education forced them into child marriages.

“This judgement offers serious protection to children and women who are the unfortunate victims of early marriages. It deals a decisive blow to the exploitation of children … it is now for the legislature or parliament to say what the penalties are” argued the women’s lawyer Tendai Biti.

Veritas, a legal group that led the constitutional court bid, applauded the ruling.

“This is a great day for gender equality, women’s rights and children’s rights and the fight against poverty,” it said, adding that it hoped other African countries would follow suit.

In November 2015, UNICEF reported that the rapid population growth in Africa could also mean that child marriages were set to double by 2050 unless urgent steps were taken.

The African Union also estimates that about 14 million under-age girls were given into marriage since.

Last year, the Union held its first major summit on ending child marriage and called for laws protecting children to be strictly enforced.

 

 

 

 

 

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Mathew Masinge

Mathew is journalist, blogger and an actor based in Harare. He writes for the Herald, Zimbabwe’s largest daily newspaper.

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