The Zambian Government said it was in the process of reviewing a law governing marriages in order to criminalise child marriages, state media on Thursday reported. Minister of Gender Victoria Kalima said the government has been prompted to review the Marriage Act because it was concerned that the problem of early marriages had continued in spite attempts to discourage it.
The ministry, she said, had been making wide consultations on criminalising child marriages and that so far tremendous progress has been recorded.
“We are harmonising the Marriage Act because the constitution states something else. We want to harmonise the age of a child,” she was quoted as saying by the Times of Zambia.
Criminalising child marriages would help to deter parents or guardians from marrying off underage children for fear of being jailed, she added.
Zambia has over the years been experiencing the problem of child marriages involving girls below the age of 18, especially in rural parts of the southern African nation.
The country has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world, with 42 per cent of women aged 20 to 24 years married before 18 years.