Urgent need to align all laws that affect children to the Constitution - Legal Resources Foundation
It is commendable that the Constitutional Court has finally outlawed child marriage and struck down section 22(1) of the Marriage Act, which for years had allowed children under the age of 18 years to marry. The landmark ruling should be seen as a major victory in the fight against child brides and poverty. A UNICEF report (2015) estimated that 31% of girls in Zimbabwe are married before their 18th birthday, putting the country among four Southern African countries with the highest rates of girl child marriages.
The LRF’s view is that although progressive, this judgment is not enough; there is need for a holistic approach, to ensure that there is an end to child marriages:
i. All laws affecting children must be aligned to the Constitution and their implementation ensured. This includes the laws which provide for the issue of the age of consent.
ii. Increase initiatives to address the cultural, social, religious and economic factors that drive the practice.
iii. Empower the girl child to stand up for her rights and report cases of such marriages.
iv. Ensure that all citizens are aware of this progressive development and also understand the import of the judgment.
v. Explore innovative strategies for full implementation of the policy on Second Chance Education to make it work for young school dropouts, especially girls.
Find the full text position paper attached.
LRF Zimbabwe 2016.