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Ending Child Marriage in Southern Africa: Gaps and Opportunities in the Legislative Frameworks

International human rights instruments such as the Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) all categorically state the minimum age of marriage as 18, without any exceptions. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), in their Joint General Comment on Ending Child Marriage, adopted in 2017, also unequivocally state the minimum age of marriage as 18 with no exceptions. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriage also echoes these human rights principles and recommends that Member States do not deviate from the minimum age of marriage, that is 18.

Our study, commissioned by the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) East and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO), explores the status of child marriage in Eastern and Southern Africa, current laws on ending child marriage in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and recommendations to the SADC Member States on improving these laws and their implementation.

Read more in our press release.