THE Constitutional Court on Wednesday delivered its long-awaited ruling, imposing a ban on the marriage of children who are below the age of 18.
The full Constitutional Court bench said section 22(1) of the Marriage Act was inconsistent with section 78(1) of the Constitution which sets 18 years as the minimum age of marriage in Zimbabwe.
The court ordered that “No person, male or female, in Zimbabwe may enter into any marriage, including an unregistered customary law union or any other union, including one arising out of religion or a religious rite, before attaining the age of eighteen (18).”
“This is a great day for gender equality, women’s rights and children’s rights and the fight against poverty,” commented Veritas, a local NGO which sponsored the application.
“This progressive decision is a mark that the Zimbabwe Constitutional Court is building up a body of constitutional jurisprudence which will also be quoted in other jurisdictions and should assist the Africa-wide campaign against child marriage.”
Veritas provides information on the work of the Parliament of Zimbabwe and the Laws of Zimbabwe and makes public domain information widely available.
The ruling by the ConCourt followed an application by two Harare women, Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi, who approached the court, through their lawyer Tendai Biti, seeking to challenge the Customary Marriages Act, arguing the said Act was infringing on the constitutional rights of young girls and boys who were getting married at an early stage.