TWO BRAVE VICTIMS OF CHILD MARRIAGE, 19 AND 18 YEAR OLD ZIMBABWEAN GIRLS, CHALLENGE CUSTOMARY MARRIAGES ACT IN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
Child marriages in Africa …are primarily motivated by poverty, ignorance, lack of education of both the victim and her parents in particular, greed and retrogressive culture that abuse the girl child who is treated, not as the child that she rightly is, a fellow human who holds equal rights to life, and must be afforded equal opportunities and justice but instead is treated as an object, with no rights and denied all opportunities that are granted to her male counterparts.
Zimbabwe is a country that has a high level of child marriages, a globally acknowledged social ill, with no place in the 21st century, whose direct impact is to limit the girl child’s ability to develop her full potential physically, emotionally and psychologically while disempowering her academically and professionally once she is turned into a child bride. She effectively is robbed of a wholesome future, mainly stemming from being isolated from, friends and family and instead burdened with the social roles and responsibilities of a wife and mother which she suddenly finds herself thrown into, at such a tender age. Teachers, parents, religious leaders, friends, opinion leaders, NGOs, ruling and opposition parties, government and community leaders and journalist need to play a greater role in mordernising retrogressive cultures and help society change oppressive social norms, if this generation is to end child marriages.
Zimbabwe this week, on Wednesday 14th January 2015 will face a groundbreaking constitutional case where, two young girls, Loveness Mudzuru (19) and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi (18) themselves victims of child marriages filed a lawsuit in November 2014, which sought to ensure the protection of children’s rights by challenging the Customary Marriages Act which allows 16-year-old girls to get married. They want Zimbabwe’s CONSTITUTIONAL COURT, to declare that under the Constitution no one can be contracted into marriage before they reach 18 years. The girls argue that Section 18 of the Marriage Act, which allows marriage before 18 must be declared unconstitutional as it does not provide for a minimum age of 18 for customary marriages. Their application cites Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, now VP and acting President of Zimbabwe, along with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community and the Attorney General’s Office as the respondents.