Child marriages outlawed in Zimbabwe

Child marriages outlawed in Zimbabwe

With effect from 20 January 2016, no person, male or female, may enter into any marriage, including an unregistered customary law union or any other union, including one arising out of religion or religious rite, before attaining the age of 18.

This ground breaking ruling by the full Constitutional Court in Zimbabwe followed an application by two Harare women (aged 19 and 20 years), themselves child brides, seeking to challenge the Customary Marriages Act, arguing that the Act was infringing on the constitutional rights of young girls and boys and exposing the girl child to the devastating consequences of early marriage: depriving girls of an education, exposing them to sexual violence, increasing the risks of sexually transmitted infections including HIV, early pregnancy and related maternal and child mortality. Both the incidence of child marriage and the consequences are exacerbated by poverty, especially in rural areas with poor access to services.