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UN Response on Forced Marriages In Zimbabwe

The UN Has Condemned Underage Forced Marriages In Zimbabwe:

The UN has condemned underage forced marriages in Zimbabwe following the death of a 14-year-old girl reportedly during childbirth.

  • The death has sparked widespread anger on social media and among children’s rights activists.

Cases of child marriages in Zimbabwe:

  • Cases of violence perpetrated against women and girls in Zimbabwe, “including marriages of minors” are a matter of concern.
  • Official statistics show that one in three Zimbabwean girls are married off before the age of 18.

Child marriages across the world:

  • The total number of girls married in childhood stands at 12 million per year.
  • Across the globe, levels of child marriage are highest in sub-Saharan Africa, where 35 per cent of young women were married before age 18, followed by South Asia, where nearly 30 per cent were married before age 18.
  • Lower levels of child marriage are found in Latin America and Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

UN and other international efforts towards ending child marriages:

  • 1979 Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women provides that the betrothal and marriage of a child shall have no legal effect.
  • The 1964 Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages says that States Parties to the present Convention shall take legislative action to specify a minimum age for marriage.
  • The right to ‘free and full’ consent to marriage is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Although marriage is not mentioned directly in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, child marriage is linked to other rights – such as the right to freedom of expression, the right to protection from all forms of abuse, and the right to be protected from harmful traditional practices.
  • In 2016, UNICEF, together with UNFPA, launched the Global Programme to End Child Marriage.
  • The elimination of child, early and forced marriage is now part of the Sustainable Development Goals under Target 5 – achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

Laws to prevent child marriages in India:

  • The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 to restrict the practice of child marriage.
  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 to address and fix the shortcomings of the Child Marriage Restraint Act.