Zimbabwe Constitutional Court Decides Marriage Under 18 Unconstitutional

Child marriages in Africa

In a court ruling that was handed down today, the Zimbabwe Constitutional Court determined that marriage under 18 years of age was unconstitutional and hence unlawful.

The Constitutional Court this morning delivered its long-awaited ruling on child marriage.  The application to outlaw child marriage succeeded.  This is a great day for gender equality, women’s rights and children’s rights and the fight against poverty..

The court’s order was:

1.  The Application succeeds.

2.  Section 22(1) of the Marriage Act [Chapter 5:11] is unconstitutional.

3.  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 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.

The court also struck down Section 22 of the Marriages Act (chapter 5:11) which allows child marriages.

The lawyer making the application was Tendai Biti who argued the case before the Bench of the Constitutional Court on January 14th 2015 on behalf of Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi.

With information from Veritas

Main Image Credit: AWEPA.org

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