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ConCourt ruling on child marriages received with caution

The recent ConCourt ruling which outlawed child marriages and struck off the statutes in Section 22(1) of the Marriage Act, which, for decades, had allowed children under the age of 18 years to formally get married has been received with caution amongst Zimbabweans from all walks of life.

The ruling stirred debate during this week’s #263Chat discussion on Tuesday titled, No under 18 marriages. Are we going in the right direction? What are the implications on society & culture? With some people saying the ruling was spot-on, while others said it was misplaced.

Below are some of the tweets that were tweeted during the discussion

The ruling also stirred debate in one Media Centre’s Whatsapp, MC Citizen journalists with most of the users blasting the ruling.

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“What is needed is advocacy for laws that compliment each other rather than laws which provide loopholes hence confusing people. Our legal system, our policies and our everyday dealings ironically supports that women are weaker than men. Yet our women ululates what demean them,” wrote one group user.

The Whatsapp group user added that, ” We have a parallel world of civil and traditional law. So its up to society to adjust accordingly. If the girl child is to be protected then the male will suffer. Accepting the law as it is and educating the girl child on the merits and demerits of early marriage is the only solution.

The user added that, “Accepting this law means that we are agreeing that women are lesser beings, they always need protection. Whatever decision they make is flawed, they need protection of the law.”

Misheck Shambare, who is also another group member argued that the ruling will end up disadvantaging the girl child who would have entered the relationship on a consensual basis.

“Why couldn’t there be a law to deal with those extreme cases in which girl children are taken advantage of than promulgating a law that will end up disadvantaging the two parties to a consensual relationship? queried Shambare.

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He also said, “The ruling  leaves a lot of issues unaddressed. How about sex? What happens if a 17 yr old is impregnated? Does it prohibit and punish in such instances?”

Timothy Ngongwe, a teacher based in Bikita contents that the ruling is meant to protect the girl child at the same time making male counterparts suffer.

‘ Argument dzose dziri kuita sokuti vasikana vose are passive pakurara nevarume. How far true is this? I am a teacher by profession. I’m teaching vana from age 14 to 21. What I have experienced is that girls sexually mature earlier than girls and in many cases these girls seduce boys vanenge vasina zvavaziva.

“Ultimately, mukomana anoguma apinda in sex because of what the girls have done. The truth is vanhukadzi vanoita sevasingazvidi but they also contribute to whatever sexual happenings. As such, ngatisatarisa tichiona varume vari vapari vemhosva on passive women inhema.

“On a certain day I had to disentangle chikomana chabatwa nemusikana. Saka tose tiri kuona varume saivo vanokonzeresa ngatitarisei objectively. So, let’s be objective.

“Interestingly, last year we gave a pass to a 17 year old upper six student who we later realized had intentionally gone to a boy’s home for four hours just for sex. Mukomana here played a role on an indecisive girl or it’s a girl who contributed? Ini ndiri kuti vasikana or vanhukadzi are very significant players in the relationships which culminates into marriages. In view of these examples cited, this act is going to impact negatively on both men and women. As such criminalizing it will only put more men in danger yet both will have taken a party into building these relationships,” wrote Ndongwe.


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263Chat is a Zimbabwean media organisation focused on encouraging & participating in progressive national dialogue

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