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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« on: February 04 2016 »

Zimbabwe ECM Media BriefLusaka, 20 January 2016: Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) views the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe ruling outlawing the marriage of children below the age of 18 years as a progressive step towards liberating children from rampant abuses caused by early marriage.

On Wednesday 20 January 2016, the Constitutional Court struck off Section 22(1) of the Marriage Act, which allowed marriage of children below the age of 18. The court ruled that this provision was inconsistent with section 78(1) of the country’s Constitution which sets 18 years as the minimum age of marriage in Zimbabwe.

PSAf views this ruling as a springboard to ending gender based violence, child abuse and other human rights violations associated with child marriage. We are pleased that this ruling provides a basis for the protection of children from early marriage and its associated vices. We now call on the authorities to ensure that this ruling is observed by all stakeholders, including religious and customary leaders. It is our hope as PSAf that other Southern African countries will follow suit in outlawing this barbaric practice.

In 2014 and 2015, PSAf implemented a project on Ending Child Marriage in the Southern Africa. Under that project, we developed media briefs on Ending Child Marriages in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique. Copies of these media briefs are available on our website www.panos.org.zm.  The project raised awareness on the drivers of child marriage in southern Africa, prompting and stimulating discussions and dialogue to influence policy changes and legal reforms against child marriage.

During the situation analysis for the media brief for Zimbabwe, the inconsistency in the provision of the Constitution and the Marriage Act was identified as one of the factors limiting efforts to end child marriage. While the constitution clearly defined a child as someone below the age of 18, the Marriage Act set 16 years as the minimum age of marriage. We are pleased that the Constitutional Court has corrected this anomaly and struck of Section 22(1) of the Marriage Act.  This is indeed a positive step towards ensuring development of the marginalised.

Child marriage is a violation of children’s rights and adversely affects the development of the child. PSAf reiterates that child marriage undermines all the fundamental rights of the children who are forced into it, whatever the circumstances.

ENDS//

Issued by: Lilian Kiefer, Executive Director, Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf)

Tel: +260978778148/9, Email: general@panos.org.zm

read also: http://www.herald.co.zw/breaking-news-concourt-outlaws-child-marriages/
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