ROOTS Press Release: Zimbabwe Con Court bans child marriages
January 20, 2016
The Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe on January 20, 2016 outlawed marriages or unions for anyone below the age of 18 years.
The groundbreaking ruling follows a case that was lodged on the 14th of January 2015 by ROOTS and Veritas seeking an order barring child marriages or unions of/ with children below the age of 18.
ROOTS, together with Veritas supported two child brides Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi and through prominent lawyer Tendai Biti filed this application to ensure protection of children’s rights by challenging the Customary Law and Marriage Act which allow girls to be married before they reach the age of 18.
In handing down the judgement, the Constitutional Court ruled that with effect from the 20th of January 2016 it is illegal for any person whether a boy or a girl to enter into a marriage or any other union below the age of 18 years old.
The court also ruled that Section 22(1) of the Marriages Act (Chapter 5:11) is inconsistent with provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which sets the minimum age of marriage at 18 years old.
ROOTS welcomes this judgement which comes as a milestone in the campaign to end child marriages and the protection of for the rights of children, specifically young girls who remain the main victims of this scourge in society.
ROOTS hope that Parliament will speed up the alignment of the Marriages Act and the new Constitution which bars the marriage of persons under the age of 18 years.
ROOTS calls for stiffer jail term sentences to all the perpetrators.
ROOTS will continue to educate communities specifically those in mining areas, farming communities and other remote areas were child marriages have become entrenched on the need to protect the rights of all children.
ROOTS calls on all responsible authorities and all Zimbabweans to respect this decision so that the rights of all children are protected.
We wish to thank all the partners in particular Veritas, the legal team headed by MR Tendai Biti and the two child brides Loveness and Ruvimbo for the determination they showed during this battle.