Zimbabwe's Constitutional Court has outlawed child marriage, after two former child brides took the case to court in a revolutionary case that has challenged the a practice that is rife in the Southern African nation.
Two former child brides Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopopdzi bought the case to court in 2014 and asked for child marriages to be declared illegal and unconstitutional stating that it is a form of child abuse which traps women in a life of poverty.
The Constitutional Court has struck down provisions in the country's marital law which allowed girls to marry at 16 and boys at 18. The court ruled, as of January 20 no one, male or female, may enter into marriage until the age of 18, "whether unregistered, customary or religious" unions, Judge Vernanda Ziyambi said while delivering a unanimous ruling.
Almost a third of young women in Zimbabwe are married before they are 18 and 4 percent before they are 15 resulting in a lack of access to education, an increased likelihood of sexual violence and putting them at serious risk of death or injury during childbirth.
Tsopodzi, now 20, was 15 when she was married, suffering emotional and physical abuse, she told the court in a signed affidavit
“My life is hell at the moment and cannot be wished on anyone else,” Tsopodzi's testimony said.
Mudzuru, who was also married at 15 and had two children by the age of 19 said that, “raising a child when you are yourself a child is excruciating and painful”
Globally, some 15 million girls are married every year. Across sub-Saharan Africa, two in five girls wed as children.