Dodoma, October 24 2019 (CABNC): Tanzania’s Supreme Court of Appeal on Wednesday has annulled a law which allows families to marry off girls as young as 15 years and asked Tanzania’s government to respect the ruling, according to court documents seen by CABNC.
The High Court upheld a ruling of a high court ruling in 2016 which declared “unconstitutional” sections of Tanzania’s marriage act that allowed the practice stating those child marriages infringed on girls’ rights and were unlawful and unconstitutional. The court had also directed the government to raise the legal age of marriage to 18 years within a year – the age for boys.
But Tanzania’s attorney general launched an appeal against the 2016 High Court ruling which had struck off sections of the law which allowed the marriage of 15-year-old girls — one of its claims was that child marriage could protect unmarried girls who get pregnant.
The ruling is a milestone for the rights of girls. With two out of five girls being married off before their 18th birthday, Tanzania has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, according to UN estimates.31% of girls in Tanzania are married before the age of 18, while 5% get married before their 15th birthday.
Children’s rights campaigners said local advocacy groups must continue to mount pressure on the government to implement the ruling.
“We welcome the news, but the marriage act needs to be amended to reflect the court’s judgment that the minimum age of marriage in Tanzania should be 18 for both boys and girls,” said Jean-Paul Murunga from campaign group Equality Now said.