via Govt finalising Bill to end child marriages – NewsDay Zimbabwe September 8, 2015 by Phyllis Mbanje
GOVERNMENT has finished drafting a Bill to end child marriages as part of efforts to stop the scourge which affects 14 million girls globally.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs portfolio committee chairperson and Harare West legislator Jessie Majome confirmed the development on Monday.
“I’m satisfied with the draft and am confident it has addressed the sticky issues. We are now working on getting it to the Justice minister,” she said.
The crafting of the Bill comes on the recommendation of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa who last year tasked Majome’s committee to lead the process. Mnangagwa is also in charge of the Justice ministry.
“I met the Vice-President to ask him to bring to Parliament a Bill to align marriage statutes to the ban of child marriages by the Constitution,” Majome said.
Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of child marriages in Africa, with about 31% of girls being married before their 18th birthday and another 4% before they turn 15.
The country came under harsh international scrutiny following a statement by Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana on the age of sexual consent.
There was a huge furore over his sentiments in which he said girls as young as 12 years could legally consent to sex exposing weak legislation and heightened the need for aligning it to the Constitution.
Ending the scourge has become a global concern and during the launch of the African Union campaign to end child marriages on the continent, AU Goodwill Ambassador Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda called on African leaders to take a leading role in the campaign.
Zimbabwe is the 8th African nation to launch the AU campaign after Ethiopia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Uganda
Currently the Global Parliamentary Campaign to End Child, Early and Forced Marriage has flighted the petition online to accelerate regional and international efforts to ending this social menace.
“As a member of Parliamentarians for Global Action, I signed the petition and encourage other MPs to do so too,” Majome said.