SADC PF holds a dialogue on child marriage laws
August 31, 2015
The Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) and AWEPA hosted the Parliamentary Dialogue on Child Laws in Johannesburg South Africa on the 3rd and 4th of February.
The objective of the dialogue was to sensitize the Members of SADC-PF to the issue of child marriage and its consequences. A further goal was to convince them to take action within their respective Parliaments. to condemn Child Marriage as a violation of girls’ rights.
Loveness Mudzuru, a child bride who together with Ruvimbo Tsopodzi recently lodged a constitutional application challenging child marriages in Zimbabwe, shared her experience as a child bride and also called on the region to unite in the fight against child marriages.
“If we are to achieve zero new HIV infections, we need to protect girls from sexual violence including child marriage,” she said.
“I was young I did not understand anything about sex or contraceptives”, said Loveness sharing her experiences of how she fell pregnant at the age of 15. Loveness had a second child barely 6 months after giving birth to the first one.
Speaking at the same event, Ms Hendrica Okondo from World YWCA emphasized the need to ensure that children have gone through birth registration.
“The other complexities we are finding in our work in child marriage is when girls do not have a birth certificates it often is difficult to prove that they are under the age of marriage, it’s like they are non-existent” says Ms Hendrica Okondo in her keynote address.
“The inclusive nature of the participants attending this dialogue goes a long way to broaden the information base for the subject under discussion which is necessary in terms of developing a Model Law that discourages Child Marriages as it requires the exploration of all possible options in our increasingly complex policy environment, said Dr. Esau Chiviya the secretary general for SADC PF in his opening remarks.
The Regional Parliamentary Dialogue on Child Marriage Laws brought together representatives from: the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF), SADC Secretariat; experts; parliamentarians from the following priority countries (Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe); and representatives from Plan and AWEPA, World YWCA and ROOTS. ROOTS is currently running a campaign under the theme NOT RIPE FOR MARRIAGE as it steps up its efforts to end child marriages.