The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe has said there is need for an awareness campaign on the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) judgment on child marriages, as more work still needs to be done to rid the country of the widespread practice.
In separate interviews on Tuesday at an information-sharing meeting with members, stakeholders agreed the law alone would not be enough to end child marriages.
The ConCourt last week outlawed the marriage of girls and boys under the age of 18.
The coalition’s national coordinator, Sally Dura said it was time to focus on other complementary areas that would help eradicate child marriages.
“Organisations came together today to discuss the implications of the judgement,” she said.
“What came out strongly is that the law alone is not going to end child marriages, but we have other realities that we need to look into and take consideration of. For example, we need to cause awareness on the judgment and its implications.
“We need to raise awareness with members of the community for them to share with us their realities and focus on the key drivers of child marriages.”
Dura said there was need to empower communities to end child marriages.
She said, previously, there were challenges with police effecting arrests because of conflicts arising on the law on the age of consent.
“We are going to hold awareness campaigns and develop a position paper that will be given to relevant stakeholders and government ministries like Education and Justice, Registrar-General’s Office, Ministry of Health and Women Affairs ministry,” Dura said.
Dorcas Makhaza from Women and Law in Southern Africa said parents should be engaged.
Transformative Justice manager of the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers’ Association, Tariro Tandi said strategies to popularise the ConCourt judgment were being explored.
“We are now focusing on making people know the meaning of the judgment. From here, we want to work with critical stakeholders such as the traditional leaders, who find themselves taking part in these child marriages or even as custodians of different communities,” she said.
“We are also looking at collaborating with child rights organisations and others who are significant in eliminating child marriages.”
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Prison-Oriented Orphans Care (Zimpoc) said the ConCourt’s landmark ruling to end child marriages was a giant step in protecting children’s rights.
“We say it is a ray of hope because the ruling outlaws child marriages, but is not in tandem with the age of consent enshrined in the Constitution. What it
entails is that older people will continue to abuse juveniles by having sex with them, albeit without marrying them, as long as they are of the age of consent,” Zimpoc said.
“Zimpoc, therefore, urges the government and responsible authorities to swiftly align the Constitution’s age of consent with the ConCourt’s landmark ruling on child marriages.”