Child marriages should be abolished in SADC: Forum

15 Jul 2015 17:10pm
WINDHOEK, 15 JUL (NAMPA) – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum has called for the abolition of child marriages.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Peter Katjavivi said this during a media briefing here on Wednesday on the outcome of the 37th Plenary Assembly of SADC PF, which took place from 05 to 11 July 2015 in Durban, South Africa.
Katjavivi said the Plenary Assembly noted that about 40 per cent of children in southern Africa are married off before they are 18 years of age.
He said early and forced child marriages are a violation of human rights and are not in conformity with the human rights obligations and commitment of SADC member states, which must promote and protect the rights and freedoms of women and girls by preventing and eliminating these practices.
“We urge our government to adopt integrated approaches towards preventing and eliminating child marriages, including engaging with women and girls themselves and their families, traditional authorities, faith-based organisations and legislators,” said Katjavivi.
He said the Assembly took resolution that the Forum should expedite the development of the SADC Model Law on Child Marriages and ensure that this is approved by the 39th Plenary Assembly session.
As a practical approach, Katjavivi said, the Plenary Assembly implored parliamentarians to ensure that appropriate legislation is enacted at national levels to outlaw early and forced child marriages.
The Assembly further urged SADC countries to consider the adoption of gender-inclusive electoral systems, especially the proportional electoral system, as this has proven to guarantee the election of women.
Katjavivi said the participants applauded Namibia's ruling party for adopting a zebra-style gender representation system to ensure equal representation of men and women in politics.
However, the Assembly took a resolution to prioritise targeted programmatic interventions to ensure the participation of the youth in politics and beatification from economic activities.
He said the youth should be mainstreamed in the political and economic governance of SADC countries.
Katjavivi said the SADC PF was satisfied with electoral democracy exercised by Namibia, Mauritius, Lesotho and Zambia.
He said elections in these countries were adjudged by a Mission of the SADC PF as well as other international missions to have been free, fair and democratic elections.
Katjavivi said while the Plenary Assembly noted that funding has decreased particularly for elections, there is a need to continue the Forum's participation in election observation as elections are at the centre of democracy.
“In response to the need to sustain one of the flagship programmes of the Forum, namely election observation, we should find innovative ways to fund election observation missions,” he said.
SADC member states are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.