Mauritius: #ChildNotBride campaign gains momentum

Mauritius: #ChildNotBride campaign gains momentum

Date: November 18, 2020
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18 November 2020, Port Louis: After years of digging in on ending child marriages, the government of Mauritius is finally relenting to civil society pressure to comply with regional instruments on 18 years as the minimum age of marriage. This could finally pave the way for Mauritius – the only Southern African Development Community (SADC) country that has not yet signed the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development – to do so.

This week, the Seventh National Assembly Mauritius Parliament will debate and examine for the first time the Children’s Bill, the Children’s Court Bill and the Child Sex Offender Register Bill. Two provisions in the Children’s Bill are of significance. The bill proposes raising the legal age of criminal responsibility from 12 to 14 years. Second, the bill proposes raising the age of marriage from 16 to 18 years.

“The long awaited Bill is welcomed by so many NGOs and individuals who have actively campaigned for an end to child marriages in Mauritius,” declared Gender Links Mauritius Manager, Anushka Virahsawmy.

Last week the National Assembly published the Explanatory Memorandum of the Children’s Bill 2019 which rectifies the marriage age provision.

In 2019 cabinet approved the Children’s Bill in Parliament for debate and enactment. The proposed Bill repeals the archaic Child Protection Act and replaces it with a more appropriate, comprehensive and modern legislative framework. The aim is to better protect children and to give better effect to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child[1].

Key changes include the protection of young children from early child marriage on the basis of parental consent due to harmful religious and cultural customs. In 2018, Gender Links and the Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance went to CEDAW with a shadow report[2] emphasising that the age of marriages both civil and religious should be 18[3].

The parliamentary debate will result in awareness raising and public discussion of the Bill. A Child Services Coordinating Panel has been established at the recommendation of the United Nations Committee to Mauritius. The Panel is set up to assist with implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and activities related to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the child.

Mauritius did not sign the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development because the civil code of the country allows children to marry below the age 18. The 2020 Voice and Choice SRHR Barometer found that Mauritius is among eight SADC countries in which “more than half of women between ages 15 and 49 do not have a say in decision-making about contraceptive use”[4].

According to official statistics note 705 girls, aged 15 to 19 years, were married between the years 2015 to 2017 in Mauritius. The Children’s Bill is a huge step in the protection and safe guarding of children in the republic of Mauritius.


Read more on the Gender Links child marriages CEDAW report case study 2018.


For more information, interviews or requests contact:


GL Mauritius: Anushka Virawsamy:

General: Shamiso F Chigorimbo

[1] Children’s Bill Mauritius 2019




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