Tanzania: Celebrating ending child marriages judgement

Tanzania: Celebrating ending child marriages judgement

Date: October 25, 2019
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For immediate release

Johannesburg, 25 October: Gender Links welcomes the upholding of the ruling against child marriages by the High court of Tanzania. This a landmark victory not only for Tanzania but for Southern Africa as well as the rest of Africa where child marriages continue to infringe on the rights of children and promises made to girls continue to be left unfulfilled.

Tanzania’s Supreme Court of Appeal on 23 October 2019 dismissed the Attorney General’s appeal against the 2016 High Court ruling that had declared “unconstitutional” sections of Tanzania’s marriage act that allowed for child marriage practices in Tanzania. The High Court ruled that marriage under the age of 18 was illegal and directed the government to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 for both boys and girls within one year.

Speaking on the ruling Gender Links Chief Executive Officer Colleen Lowe Morna noted that “this is excellent news especially with the current roll back we need more courageous activists well done to all brothers and sisters in Tanzania who fight for gender justice.

This ruling comes at an significant time ahead of the 25th anniversary of International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which seeks to mobilise political will and financial commitments to ending harmful practices against women and girls amongst other key SRHR issues.

Harmful cultural practices such as child marriages are a form of Gender Based violence (GBV) and should be ended. Child marriage is in essence an abuse of children. It denies their right to education, to sexual reproductive health and to a future in which they make their own decisions and a right to economic opportunities.

Although Tanzania’s constitution provides for protection of all from human rights violation this has fallen short where child marriage is concerned. A 2017 National Survey by the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children in Tanzania notes that 37 % of girls in Tanzania are married before their 18th birthday.

Despite the numerous global, continental and regional instruments pronouncing 18 as the minimum age of marriage including the SADC model law on marriage laws at national level contradict this. In Tanzania the age of consent to marriage for girls and boys differ with girls allowed to consent to marriage at 15 and boys at 18 years of age.

GL and the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance are implementing a #VoiceandChoice campaign which focuses amongst others ending harmful practices. The campaign is lobbying and advocating for adherence to the  Maputo Protocol and the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development which posits that no person under the age of 18 shall marry.

This year, the 2019 Gender Protocol Barometer coordinated by the Alliance also put a spotlight on the state of child marriages and other harmful practices prevalent as well as other SRHR issues in Southern Africa.

For further information, please contact our communications team on media@genderlinks.org.za or call 0027825600066.

Photo Source- Human Rights Watch

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