The Mozambican parliament is considering a Bill that seeks to criminalise child marriages and impose hefty penalties on those found guilty of engaging or promoting the practice.
On Tuesday, 9 July 2019, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Affairs, Human Rights and Legality, Edson Macuácua said the Prevention and Combating of Premature Marriage Unions Bill would set 18 years as the minimum age for women and men to legally marry.
“Therefore, marriages involving adolescents under the age of 18 will no longer be allowed,” Macuácua said.
If the bill is passed, those found guilty of forcing their children into early marriages and those who enter into marriages with children under 18 years of age would be sentenced to between two and eight years in prison.
The bill is expected to be brought before the Mozambican parliament on 17 July 2019.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, about 48 percent of Mozambican girls are married before their eighteenth birthday, while 14 percent are married before the age of 15.
According to UNICEF, Mozambique has the ninth highest child marriage prevalence rate in the world, with more than 649 000 child brides as of 2015.