Zambia’s Gender Minister Victoria Kalima Kicks Off Campaign To Criminalise Child Marriages
The Zambian Government through its Gender Minister, Victoria Kalima has started the process of reviewing marriage laws in order to criminalize child marriages.
According to the state’s media Thursday report [Times by Zambia], the Minister of Gender Victoria Kalima said the government has been prompted to review the Marriage Act because it was concerned that the problem of early marriages is still on the rise despite several attempts to curtail it.
The ministry, who has been making consultations on criminalizing child marriages, said so far there has been tremendous progress to that effect.
Child Marriages Are Unlawful
“We are harmonizing the Marriage Act because the constitution states something else. We want to harmonize the age of a child.
“Criminalizing child marriages would help to deter parents or guardians from marrying off underage children for fear of being jailed.”
Child marriage is a human rights violation where an under-18 child is legally or traditionally married off to a spouse. Despite laws against it in various parts of the world, the practice remains widespread, in some parts of Africa and Asia due to persistent poverty and gender inequality.
Each year, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18 across the world. In developing countries, one in every three girls is married before reaching age 18. One in nine is married under age 15.
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In Nigeria, the act is predominant in the Northern region as more men, especially the ones with many wives already, acquire new child brides as a way of adding to their feature.
Zambia has over the years been experiencing the problem of child marriages involving girls below the age of 18, especially in rural parts of the southern African nation.
The country has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world, with 42 percent of women aged 20 to 24 years married before 18 years.
Meanwhile, in early April, a Malaysian lawmaker, Tasek Gelugor, who tried to defend pedophiles, said 9-year-old girls are physically and spiritually ready for marriage.
His controversial statement made a lot of stir on social media and it was made in response to a proposal by an opposition member of parliament to amend the Sexual Offences Against Children bill to include a ban on child marriage.