South Africa mulls change of marriage laws

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The South African government on Friday met various stakeholders in order to develop new marriage policy which is non-discriminatory to people of different nationalities, religions and cultures.

The Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi said they would like to come up with a harmonized legislation which would take into account the interest of diversity of the people staying in the country.

“This is the beginning of the process to modernize our marriage laws to ensure they are in line with the Constitution. In these consultations we want to identify key issues which should be included in the marriage policy for the realization of equality. We need to come up with a new progressive marriage policy which we hope to submit to Cabinet by March 2021,” said Motsoaledi.

He mentioned that since April last year, 2,132 fraudulent marriages were reported to the department and 400 were found to be legitimate.

Motsaoledi said, “We want to get rid of fraudulent marriages where people steal documents of other people and get married using them and marriages of convenience involving minors.”

The Save the Children project manager Nyika Machenjedze said some of the laws are contradicting each other. In South Africa there are some differences in age of consent to have sex, consume alcohol, work and get marriages. Machenjedze stated that there must be harmonization of the law regarding children’s consent.

“No child should get marriage below the age of 18 years. There should be no exception to this so as to maximize protection to the children. The law is good but in the communities there is a need for mental changes and that is where we need to invest most,” said Machenjedze.

Currently a minor can get married in South Africa with the parents consent even under 18 years. Machenjedze stated that there are some parents who give their children (minors) to some 70 year old traditional healers as payment for the services rendered to them.

The UNICEF child protection officer Gloria Khoza stated that allowing children to get married before the age of 18 is a violation of their rights.

Khoza said, “The national policy should ban harmful practices like forced marriages, virginity testing and female genital mutilation which are all practiced in South Africa. The law should be non-discriminatory and treat the boys and girls equally.” Enditem

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