Despite many campaigns aimed at ending the scourge of child marriages, the practice continues legally in a number of countries. However, Zimbabwe is no longer one of them.
Two former child brides from Zimbabwe were victorious at the country’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday after it ruled that child marriage is illegal.
Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi convinced the court to change the legal age for marriage from 16 to 18. Before the ruling, Zimbabwean law allowed girls to marry at the age of 16, and boys at 18.
“Young girls who marry early and often in poor families are then forced to produce young children in a sea of poverty and the cycle begins again,” Mudzuru said, adding that it’s difficult to raise a child when you’re a child yourself.
Mudzuru, who got married when she was 16, told Reuters she was thrilled about the outcome.
“I really am happy that we have played an instrumental part in making Zimbabwe a safe place for girls,” she said.
Tendai Biti, the lawyer who represented the two women, praised the Constitutional Court for making the ruling. “The court should be congratulated for making such a bold, bold decision. I feared that they would leave that to the legislature.
“I am very pleased to be part of this history. Parliament should have done this many years ago. They had over 36 years to do it; they did not do it. So it has taken a bold decision from a bold court to do this. So, it is a great day for women,” Biti told Voice of America.
Speaking to Reuters, human rights activist Beatrice Savadye also commended the ruling, but said there is still much to be done to educate people about child marriages and its effects.