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Protecting Zambia’s Children : DPP Phiri Leads Charge Against Child Marriage

WhatsApp Image 2024-06-14 at 1.54.26 PM

Lusaka, Zambia – Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Gilbert Phiri has hailed the recent amendment to the Marriage Act as a significant step forward in the fight against child marriage in Zambia. Speaking at a dialogue on joint action to create awareness of the minimum age of marriage, DPP Phiri emphasised the gravity of child marriage, citing alarming statistics from UNFPA and UNICEF.

The amendment, enacted in December 2023, categorically prohibits child marriages under both customary and statutory law, nullifying the previous provision allowing marriage of children as young as 15. This change harmonises the legal age of marriage with Zambia’s constitutional definition of a child as anyone under 18.

DPP Phiri noted that prior to this amendment, Zambia’s legal landscape was fraught with inconsistencies, including a loophole allowing child marriages under customary rites. He highlighted the landmark case of Rex vs. Chinjamba (1949), which previously permitted sexual relations with girls under 16 within the context of lawful marriage.

The DPP emphasised the critical role of effective enforcement, collaboration, and coordination across sectors in implementing this legal reform. He urged stakeholders to engage in open dialogue, fostering a multi-sectorial approach to ensure comprehensive implementation.

With this amendment, Zambia takes a significant leap forward in protecting its youth from child marriage. The National Prosecution Authority, through its Gender-Based Crime Department, is committed to holding perpetrators accountable and ensuring that child marriage becomes an unthinkable relic of the past.

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