Mozambican Parliament passes Law prohibiting premature unions

In Mozambique, premature marriage is already considered a legally punishable crime with 8 to 12 years in prison.

“The (…) Prevention and Combat of Premature Unions Act (…) must be accompanied by preventive actions so that more girls live and move around in safe spaces and see their human rights respected.”

July 2019 has become a historic month for everyone that like medicusmundi and its partner Fórum Mulher work daily to achieve Gender Equality in Mozambique. The approval of the new law to Prevent and Combat Premature Unions, on July 15th, was viewed with great enthusiasm: “Approval of the Prevention and Combat of Premature Unions Act should be seen as a victory for the future, especially for girls. But above all, its implementation must be accompanied by preventive actions so that more girls live and move around in safe spaces and see their human rights respected. medicusmund in Mozambique is committed to continue working for the human rights of women, their daughters and their children.”

Premature marriages have long been the subject of widespread debate, mobilizing numerous organizations and members of civil society who warned of the serious health and even life dangers to which these children were exposed, particularly as a result of early pregnancies, obstetric fistulas, school dropout, poor school performance of girls, chronic malnutrition, among others. The draft law now approved had been submitted to the Mozambican Parliament two years ago by 53 civil society organizations, which form the “Coalition for the Elimination of Premature Marriages”.

With the approval of the new law, unions between persons under the age of 18, or involving a minor citizen, are now officially illegal, making their reporting mandatory. The law provides not only for the sanction of those who marry, but also for family members who compel or condone the marriage. This decision is an important step in strengthening the protection systems of thousands of children who, according to tradition, were forced to marry with other (often older) people, in an act of pure violation of their individual freedom.

It is recalled that Mozambique has one of the highest rates of premature marriage in the world, affecting one in two girls, and has the second highest rate in the East and Southern Africa subregion. About 48% of women in Mozambique between the ages of 20 and 24 have been married or have been in a marriage before turning 18 and 14% before the age of 15, according to the 2011 IDS quoted by UNICEF. The provinces of Nampula, Zambezia, Cabo Delgado, Tete and Manica have the highest number of cases.

 

Published on August 2019

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