The SADC Parliamentary Forum has mobilised financial and technical resources to develop a Model Law on Child Marriage, as SADC Member States raise the ante against the scourge that affects millions of girl children in Sub Saharan Africa and beyond. It is worth mentioning that a draft Model Law has been written and is currently being discussed with various stakeholders.
AWEPA welcomes the development of the Model Law on Child Marriage, which was revealed by the Secretary General of SADC-PF, Dr. Esau Chiviya during the regional dialogue on child marriage in Johannesburg in February this year and addressed again during a two-day national follow-up workshop on child marriage laws which was organised in Zambia in June 2015 by AWEPA and Plan Zambia in cooperation with the Parliament of Zambia and SADC-PF.
A staggering 15 million girls are married as children every year. More than 720 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday with approximately one in three of them having entered marriage union before the age of 15 years.
A resolution of the 35th SADC-PF Plenary Assembly held in Mauritius in June 2014 called for concerted efforts to eradicate child marriages in the SADC Region. After that resolution, the SADC-PF, AWEPA and Plan 18+ Zambia Sub-Regional Group convened the regional dialogue on Child Marriage from 3-4 February 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Dialogue ended by adopting a Six Step Road Map towards the development of a Model Law that would contribute towards ending Child Marriages by providing SADC countries with the necessary Reference Information.
“Child Marriage is an extremely devastating phenomenon. It robs girl children of their childhood and denies them the opportunity to benefit meaningfully from formal education thereby condemning them to perpetual poverty. It exposes affected children to gender-based violence, HIV and AIDS, fistula, and pregnancy-related complications including death while giving life.”
Secretary General of SADC-PF, Dr. Esau Chiviya