‘Marriage Bill must conform to international law’

Stakeholders have been urged to advocate for alignment of provisions for the proposed Marriage Bill with regional and international human rights framework before passing it into law.

Presenting at a consultative stakeholders workshop for the Marriage Bill in Harare on Tuesday, Center for Applied Legal Research (CALR) Projects Coordinator Aminata Ruwodo said Zimbabwe is part of regional and international treaties which uphold gender equality hence its laws need to be relevant to regional and international framework principles.

She reiterated that constitutions determine the domestic centres of regional and international laws in each country and as such Zimbabwean domestic laws on marriage must be in line with the treaties.

Ruwodo said stakeholders need to have an understanding of the mechanisms and political agreements entailed in the existing human rights treaties.

“It is important to know the principles of the framework set up. Some are legally binding while others apply as soft law. They are all key to realising gender equity and rights,” she said.

“Some of these frameworks provide for marriage rights while others focus generally on marriage issues.”

The Marriage Bill, she said, must incorporate specifications on such issues as child spacing, guardianship, trusteeship and adoption of children irrespective of the marital status of their parents.

She said the Bill needs to place emphasis on the importance of the protection of families by state and society since they (families) are the fundamental unit of every society.

Kanako Mabuchi the Head of Office at Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Zimbabwe said issues of gender equality and child protection in marriages are a regional and international concern hence should be effectively addressed.

She said the Bill needs to uphold the rights of women, children and the marginalised.

There must be clauses, she added, which will cater for victims of who end up isolated or left behind due to collapsed marriages.

“There is a need to make airtight laws which will ensure child protection. It must do away with sexual exploitation especially of the girl child as this cuts short her journey in education. Some children lose lifetime opportunities due to dysfunctional families. The marriage bill should thus be tailored to protect the rights of the children at all costs,” said Kanako.

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