High-level conference opened in the Zambian capital Lusaka on Wednesday aimed at ending early marriage in the country which has been identified as one of the major causes of social challenges. Opening the three-day meeting, Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkandu Luo said child marriages were among the major drivers of gender-based violence and health issues such as HIV and AIDS.
She said children as young as nine years old were being given to marriage and this posed challenges to their health because they usually face labour complications that often result in their deaths or the death of the babies.
The minister noted that discrepancies in Zambian laws also contributed to child marriages because customary law allowed a child who reached puberty regardless of age to get married with parental consent while statutory law stipulated different ages for different activities such as voting age, driving age and marriage.
She said she would personally push to have laws amended to categorically state that a person who marries under the age of 21 be considered a child.
She said only when a child reaches the age of 21 could they be expected to take up the responsibilities that came with marriage.
The conference has attracted participants from neighbouring countries as well as several donor agencies, including the United Nations.
Courtesy AGENCIES ……… Source ………… NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS