Former child brides have struck a blow for future generations of women and children — taking their case to Zimbabwe’s highest court and winning a ban on marriage for anyone under the age of 18.
The women, Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi, claimed they faced a life of poverty without access to education after being forced into child marriages.
A lawyer for the two said the court decision “deals a decisive blow to the exploitation of children” and called on Zimbabwe’s legislature to set penalties for for the practice.
Nearly one-third of girls in Zimbabwe marry before their 18th birthday — some even before they turn 15 — when parents arrange their marriages.
The Constitutional Court’s ruling on January 20 banned marriage and other customary forms of unions for anyone under the age of 18. It also struck down a law that let girls marry at 16, but required boys to be at least 18.
Mudzuru, one of the women who brought the lawsuit, married when she was just 16 and had two children before turning 18.
“I really am happy that we have played an instrumental part in making Zimbabwe a safe place for girls,” Mudzuru told Reuters.