SA moves to outlaw child marriages

SA moves to outlaw child marriages

Government is set to outlaw the possibility of minors entering into marriage. 

Child Marriage in South Africa
Child Marriage in South Africa/Twitter/@Gufasha_Found

Existing legislation makes provisions for the marriage of minors provided that consent has been granted by parents and submitted to the marriage officer in writing.

The White Paper on Marriages in South Africa has recommended that the legislation be amended in order to outlaw child marriages.

The Customary Marriages Act provides that minors can get married but will need the consent of a parent, a guardian, or a commissioner of child welfare. 

In certain circumstances, minors will need to solicit the consent of the Minister of Home Affairs for the marriage to go ahead.

South Africa is signatories to several protocols, including the Southern African Development Community Protocol on Gender and Development, which states that no person under the age of 18 shall marry.

READ: Polyandry in SA: Govt says no to women with multiple husbands

Girls are disproportionately affected by child marriages compared to boys.

In 2017, the civil marriages of 70 bribes and two bridegrooms under the age of 18 were registered.

Seventy-seven minor girls and eight minor boys concluded customary marriages in the same year.

"This practice is contrary to the country's constitutional, international and regional obligations, which aim to protect children and to act in their best interests," reads the document.

A White Paper, which forms part of the legislative process, is a statement of intent and a detailed policy plan which often forms the basis of legislation.

A draft Bill will follow before it's debated and adopted by Parliament and approved by Cabinet.


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