SADC adopts model law for children

Early marriage child mother.

BENEDICT TEMBO, Ezulwini, Swaziland
SOUTHERN African Development Community (SADC) members of Parliament have adopted a Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriage.
The model law was adopted on Friday during the ongoing 39th Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum sitting in Ezulwini, Swaziland, where Zambia is represented by Speaker of the National Assembly, Patrick Matibini.
The historic model law was developed as a response to the prevalence of child marriage in southern Africa.
The motion for the adoption of the model law on eradicating child marriage and protecting those already in marriage in southern Africa was moved by Innocent Gonese of Zimbabwe and seconded by Jessie Kabwila of Malawi.
Most of SADC-PF’s partners such as the East African Legal Assembly, the Economic Community of West African States Parliament, the African Union and the SADC secretariat hailed the move.
Southern Province Royal Foundation chairperson Chief Chikanta, who attended the plenary as an observer, said the adoption is in the right direction.
Chief Chikanta, whose chiefdom is a role model in fighting child marriages, said he is going to sensitise his administrative structures while awaiting Government to domesticate the model law.
Teodosio Uate, head of the SADC legal affairs unit, underscores the importance of the model.
“As adopted by the SADC-PF, the model law on eradicating child marriage and protecting children already in marriage should be viewed as an equally valid contribution for the promotion of social and human development in SADC, especially the rights of the child,” Dr Uate said.
Anna-Klara Berglund, the first secretary at the Embassy of Sweden in Lusaka, said the model law will go down in the history of the SADC region, other regions in Africa and the world as a key turning point in the struggle for the rights of the girl child.
“Sweden looks forward to further progressive efforts by SADC PF and other parliamentarians to advocate and influence national responses to this important issue and other sexual and reproductive health rights-related matters in the SADC region,” Ms Berglund said.
The Plenary Assembly Session is the highest decision-making body of the SADC-PF, which brings together national parliaments from 14 SADC member states.

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