Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has cautioned apostolic sect leaders against enabling child marriages saying the long arm of the law will catch up with them.
This follows the recent passing into law of the Marriages Act which abolishes and criminalises child marriages while protecting children particularly girls from the ‘unlawful and despicable practice.’
In a press statement Wednesday ZLHR urged the public and community leaders to play their part towards eradicating the practice of child marriages.
“ZLHR also wishes to advise all apostolic sect leaders that have been enabling child marriages that their days are numbered as the long arm of the law will catch up with them,” ZLHR said.
The human rights advocacy group also appealed to traditional leaders to use their influence to ensure child marriages are eradicated in the country.
“It is also important for traditional leaders, such as chiefs and headmen to use their significant influence in their communities to ensure that the practice of child marriages is effectively eradicated, child marriages have proliferated in Zimbabwe partly because of traditional beliefs and customs which endorse the practice,” reads the statement.
ZLHR applauded the government for criminalising child marriages saying while also highlighting that there is significant work that still needs to be done in the fight against the vice.
“In order to fully eradicate the scourge of child marriages from our society, the other two arms of government – the executive and judiciary need to commit to the effective enforcement of the law, which now criminalises child marriages as well as to enhance access to justice for children who may need protection of the courts,” the organisation added.
The Marriages Act was passed by Parliament and signed into law by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in March.