Child marriage around the world:

Zimbabwe

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 15
4%
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 18
34%

* References

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old.

* According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2016.

Photo credit: DFID

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 15
4%
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 18
34%

* References

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old.

* According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2016.

Approximately 1 in 3 girls in Zimbabwe are married before their 18th birthday.

Drivers

Child marriage predominantly affects girls who live in poverty and in rural areas. Girls from the poorest 20% of the households were more than 4 times as likely to be married/in union before age 18 than girls from the richest 20% of the households. The less education a girl has, the more she is likely to marry during her childhood.

Religion is also a driver of child marriage in Zimbabwe. For example, in the apostolic faith, religion combines with traditional culture, and girls are often encouraged to marry much older men at a very young age.

Legal age of marriage

Laws pertaining to marriage in Zimbabwe are discriminatory against girls: the Marriage Act allows girls age 16 to marry while the minimum age for boy is 18. The Customary Marriages Act does not specify a minimum age of marriage.

In 2013, Zimbabwe adopted a new Constitution which stipulates that “no person may be compelled to enter marriage against their will” and calls on the state to ensure that “no children are pledged into marriage.”

In January 2016, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Marriage Act, which allowed girls as young as 16 to be married with their parents’ consent, was unconstitutional and recognised 18 years as the legal minimum age of marriage.

Initiatives to end child marriage

In August 2015, Zimbabwe launched the African Union campaign to end child marriage. A National Action Plan and Communication Strategy is now being developed.

In 2014, two former child brides Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi filed an application asking the Constitutional Court to declare the Marriage Act and the Customary Marriage Act unconstitutional. In January 2016, the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of Loveness and Ruvimbo, recognising that the Marriage Act was unconstitutional.

Several civil society campaigns or programmes to end child marriage have recently been launched, including:

  • The 18+ campaign, by Plan Zimbabwe
  • The “Give us books, not husbands” campaign by Katswe Sistahood
  • The “Not Ripe for Marriage” campaign by Real Opportunities for Transformation Support (ROOTS)
Sources