Puni­tive mar­riage law pro­posed

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Chron­i­cle Re­porter

A PER­SON who mar­ries a mi­nor or mar­riage of­fi­cers who bless child mar­riages face up to two years in jail if new mar­riage law pro­pos­als are adopted.

The draft amend­ments com­piled by women’s or­gan­i­sa­tions and child rights ac­tivists were sub­mit­ted to Vice Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa last week.

The pro­pos­als seek to amend five laws: the Birth and Deaths Reg­is­tra­tion Act, Chil­dren’s Act, Cus­tom­ary Mar­riages Act, Mar­riage Act and the Crim­i­nal Law (Cod­i­fi­ca­tion and Re­form) Act in a bid to end child mar­riages in the coun­try. “Any min­is­ter of re­li­gion or any per­son au­tho­rised by the au­thor­ity gov­ern­ing the re­li­gious de­nom­i­na­tion or or­gan­i­sa­tion con­cerned who fails to com­ply with this sec­tion shall be guilty of an of­fence and li­able to a fine not ex­ceed­ing level seven or to im­pris­on­ment for a pe­riod not ex­ceed­ing two years or to both such fine and such im­pris­on­ment,” reads Sec­tion 11 of the pro­posed amend­ment.

The draft also states that a per­son who mar­ries a child be­low 18 years would be sen­tenced to two years im­pris­on­ment.

“Any per­son who mar­ries a per­son be­low the age of eigh­teen years con­trary to sub­sec­tions (1) and (2), he or she shall be guilty of an of­fence and li­able to a fine not ex­ceed­ing level seven or to im­pris­on­ment for a pe­riod not ex­ceed­ing two years or to both such fine and such im­pris­on­ment,” says the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion.

Harare West MP (MDC-T) Jessie Ma­jome said the draft Bill seeks to pre­vent child mar­riages.

She said the draft re­moves all pro­vi­sions that pro­mote or abet child mar­riages in the coun­try’s laws.

“It also seeks to amend the Cus­tom­ary Mar­riages Act by in­tro­duc­ing a mar­riage age which is de­fined as 18 years age,” she said.

The MP said the draft Bill also seeks to make it more ur­gent to reg­is­ter births by re­duc­ing the pe­riod from four to five days to just 24 hours.

She said the draft also pro­poses head­men as well as mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cers to be recog­nised as mar­riage of­fi­cers.

“It seeks to have the Min­is­ter of Jus­tice ex­pand peo­ple that he may ap­point as mar­riage of­fi­cers be­yond the present chief, min­is­ters of re­li­gion and mag­is­trates to head­men as well as mu­nic­i­pal dis­trict of­fi­cers in town so that it’s eas­ier to reg­is­ter a mar­riage and see who might be try­ing to marry a child.

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