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Child Marriages and the Law

Child marriages are marriages that involve persons below the age of 18 years. These marriages can either be voluntary or involuntary. Child marriages can involve an adult and a child or minor or it may involve both minors. These marriages affect both parties but more especially girls.

There are a number of laws in Zimbabwe that speak to marriages and some of these specify what a child is. According to the Children’s Act, a child is described as a person who is under the age of 16.

On the other hand the law is very clear as to who an adult is and an adult is described as someone who is above the age of 18.

The Constitution provides for marriages and it states that the State should make sure that no marriage is entered into without the free and full consent of the intended spouse and children are not pledged in marriages.

It also states that every person who has attained the age of eighteen years has the right to found a family and no person may be compelled to enter into marriage against their will.

Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act outlaws the pledging of female persons, especially those under the age of 18.

The Domestic Violence Act not only outlaws the pledging of women and girls but also forced and child marriages.

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