The constitutional court ruling against child marriages in Zimbabwe: a landmark decision for advancing the rights of the girl child
On the 20th of January 2016, the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe went a step ahead to protect children’s rights by banning child marriages and other harmful practices that are detrimental to childhood. The ruling comes at an opportune time to denounce the inadequacy of marriage laws, and to ban all archaic practices responsible for an upsurge in child brides. This is undeniably a groundbreaking ruling in the eyes of diverse actors who for long have been battling it out against the upsurge and impact of child marriages. This article goes beyond acknowledgement of the ruling to commend the judiciary’s role in ending harmful practices, and to decipher post-ruling strategies to end child marriages. Amongst other efforts, the legislature is urged to expedite harmonisation and alignment of marriage laws to the 2013 Constitution, and other international best practices as well as implementation of innovative and multi-sectoral approaches in tackling child marriages. The paper advocates for litigation in lower courts, as well as widespread awareness campaigns at all levels of society to rethink attitudes, beliefs and practices which are inconsistent with best practices in child protection.
Keywords: Child marriages, harmful practices, judiciary, girl child