SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriage

This pace-setting SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriage would not have been developed successfully were it not for the financial, technical, political, moral and other support that the SADC Parliamentary Forum got from many cooperating partners, people and institutions.

A few deserve special mention: Sweden, and Norway who have partnered with SADC PF since 2007 and are funding our Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Project which spearheaded the development of this Model Law; the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); the African Union; the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA); various Civil Society Organisations (including Plan International 18+ Programme, the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC), Girls not Brides (GnB) and the World Young Women’s Christian Association (World YWCA); the East African Legislative Assembly; the SADC Secretariat; the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Botswana High Court Judge, Prof Key Dingake (PhD); legal drafters from the SADC Region’s National Parliaments; many Members of Parliament from the SADC Region; traditional leaders; survivors of child marriage and many young people of our region. Our grateful thanks go, also, to the various interpreters who ensured that we communicated effectively during the many months that we spent pondering over drafts of this Model Law until finalisation. 

To all those who doubted that the SADC Region’s elected representatives of the people could set aside political or other differences and join hands to confront a common challenge, this Model Law is your answer.

I am confident that this Model Law is a common legal framework that will encourage SADC Member States to be accountable in the execution of policies, enactment of laws and coming up with strategic plans and measures aimed at eradicating child marriage, protecting children already in marriage and ensuring SRHR of adolescents and young people are protected.

Underpinned by a strong restatement of the child’s rights, principles and concepts on the best interest of the child, including SRHRs, this Model Law responds to a resolution of the 35th SADC Parliamentary Forum Assembly held in Mauritius in June 2014 which called for concerted efforts to eradicate child marriage in the SADC Region.

It is my fervent hope that this ground-breaking Model Law will influence the reform of outdated marriage laws, development of progressive marriage laws and harmonisation of child marriage related laws across Member States.

I congratulate SADC PF Members of Parliament and all our partners for brokering a consensus among all Member States on a law with enough commonality that can be applicable across all Member States.

I look forward to SADC Member States incorporating, enacting or promulgating the provisions of this Model Law into their domestic legal frameworks. Ultimately, the Model law has to be implemented if we have to protect girls and boys from this human right violation and if our region has to achieve its demographic dividend. I encourage our Judiciary, Executive and CSOs including all media, to keep an eye on us and hold us to account in this regard.

This is your Law. Use it.

Dr Esau Chiviya

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Le Forum parlementaire de la Communauté de développement de l'Afrique australe (SADC PF) a été créé en 1997 conformément à l'article 9 (2) du Traité de la SADC en tant qu'institution autonome de la SADC. Il s'agit d'un organe interparlementaire régional composé de treize (14) parlements représentant plus de 3500 parlementaires dans la région de la SADC.

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