from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE enactment of the Marriages Act is a major step in ending the scourge of child marriages in Zimbabwe.
The legislation renders unlawful traditional beliefs and customs which endorse the practice.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) stated the Marriages Act was commendable pointing out it unequivocally abolishes and criminalises child marriages and will hopefully if implemented, protect children particularly girls.
The female child has over the years borne the brunt of the practice.
The Act is also lauded because it aligns the marriage laws of the country with the Constitution and Zimbabwe’s obligations under international law.
“ZLHR hopes that the Marriages Act will be interpreted in a manner that guarantees the rights of women,” the group stated.
It added, “Although the enactment of this crucial law is laudable, there is significant work which remains to be done in the fight against the scourge of child marriages.”
In order to fully eradicate the scourge the other two arms of government – the executive and judiciary- must commit to the effective enforcement of the law, the lawyers stated.
“Such enforcement action entails the investigation and prosecution of all perpetrators of the unlawful practice without fear or favour.”
Child marriages have proliferated in Zimbabwe partly because of traditional customs or practices by some religious groups.
Poverty, which has worsened because of economic crises as a result of Western sanctions as well as the COVID-19, have worsened the problem in recent years.
– CAJ News