Over 200 Underage Girls Legally Married According to Dept of Home Affairs, Justice Minister to Reform Law

Over 200 Underage Girls Legally Married According to Dept of Home Affairs, Justice Minister to Reform Law

  • The high number of child marriages is concerning and only represents the number of official marriages
  • The number of informal wedding arrangements is unknown and Justice Minister Ronald Lamola plans to change that
  • Lamola hopes to introduce a bill that could potentially end both child and forced marriages in South Africa

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CAPE TOWN - More than 200 South African girls have been married before turning the legal age since 2015 according to the department of home affairs.

A member of parliament from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Andrew Arnolds had questioned statistics on child marriages. The number only showcases only legal marriages however the amount of informal arrangements is not registered.

Dept of Home Affairs, records over 200 underage marriages, officially on record, under 18, Minister Ronald Lamola
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola plans to reform a law to end child marriages. Image: Darren Stewart/Getty
Source: Getty Images

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola is planning to put legislation on ukuthwala which is a tradition where a woman is brought to her partner's household to force her family to negotiate the customary marriage. The practice has since been tarnished and often girls and young women are captured in its name according to News24.

Presently, girls under 15 years and boys under 18 can legally be wed with the consent from the Minister of Home Affairs is required. Once the bill comes into effect, it will bring South Africa a step closer to ending forced marriages, reported Business Insider.

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South Africans have mixed reactions to the law reform

@LoveSwaziland commented:

“So all our paedos can now be charged.”

@MomentMK11 posted:

“Stop interfering in people's traditions and culture you're not God's or god's politics it's clear it's not for Africans but here to disrespect us.”

@Radebe94 said:

“Progressive recommendations here.”

@francvdm added:

“This is something that needs attention, and we are so good at creating more and more!! But more important in SA is the ability to apply the laws and keep order. We are failing miserably there!”

'About time': Law set to end child marriage in England and Wales

Briefly News previously reported at 16, Payzee Mahmod was coerced by her Iraqi-Kurdish family in London into marrying a man around twice her age. Two years later her elder sister Banaz, who had left a marriage she was forced into aged 17, was murdered by members of her family in a so-called honour killing.

Laws in England and Wales, which allow 16- and 17-year-olds to get married as long as they have parental consent, offered the teenage girls little redress at the time.

But nearly two decades on, a renewed legislative bid to change the minimum age for marriage to 18, and criminalise those organising underage unions, looks set to succeed.

Source: Briefly News

Bianca Lalbahadur avatar

Bianca Lalbahadur Bianca Lalbahadur is a current affairs journalist at Briefly News. With a knack for writing hard-hitting content, she is dedicated to being the eyes and ears of South Africans. As a young and vibrant journalist, Bianca is passionate about providing quality and factual stories that impact citizens. She graduated from the Independent Institute of Education in 2017 and has worked at several award-winning Caxton associated community newspapers.

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