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Government could soon outlaw any marriage with persons below the age of 18, President Mugabe has said. Mugabe said this in Harare yesterday amid national debate on court precedents allowing children as young as 12 years old to legally consent to sex and even marriage. Addressing child parliamentarians at the official opening of the 23rd Session of the Junior Parliament, which coincided with the Day of the African Child commemorations at Parliament Building, President Mugabe said parents were central to stopping early marriages.
The President said: “Government is considering aligning our laws relating to marriages to forbid the marriage of young people below the age of 18. I don’t know whether we can succeed, (but) I think the family, the parents will succeed much more than the Government by teaching usefulness of education to their children; that after Form Four, do some course. It’s not just going to university which is the possible root to higher development. “At least do some course, teaching course, professional course, agricultural course, health course, etcetera. This alignment (of the law on marriage age) which the Government is willing to do is in sync with our Constitution. We are, therefore, urging chiefs, traditional leaders and other community leaders to sensitise their communities and encourage young people to stay in school.
” The Marriage Act (Chapter 5:07) provides that a girl between the age of 16 and 18 may, with the joint consent of her mother and father, enter a civil marriage. The Act prohibits marriage of girls below the age of 16. However, court rulings have allowed girls as young as 12 to get married, a situation that has triggered widespread opposition and calls for realignment of all necessary legislation to ensure child marriages are stopped. President Mugabe bemoaned the practice of treating young girls as adults. “That’s what they say. Ane mazamu zvino akugona kuchata, aiwa haasati akura. Ehe, and the boys and senior men start engaging with the girls at (that) age.
It is clear that we must do more to ensure that our society allows young women to grow and reach their fullest potential,” he said. “Child marriages cause irreparable damage to the growth of young people while early marriages permanently rob the married youngsters (of) the valuable experience of childhood. “It also denies them their right to personal development which includes education. If you are going to get married at 16, 17, 18 we say you will not have gone to a higher institution. You might have gone to O-Level, but nowadays O-Level is the base, it is the foundation of real education.” Mugabe Source: sundaymail – Source.bulawayo24