Saturday, October 24, 2020

Dingake gives thumbs up to SADC’s move to Eradicate Child Marriages

Over the past few years, Botswana has seen a disturbing increase in child marriages whereby children are married at a young age and find themselves in situations that undermine their childhood development. However this tide could soon be a thing of the past as SADC has upped the ante and is moving to eradicate this habit. SADC is in the process of developing a draft SADC Model Law on eradicating Child marriage and protecting those already in marriage, to further promote the rights of women and girls. The SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) is making the drafting of the model law an interactive process involving many stakeholders. According to High Court Judge Professor Key Dingake, this announcement has been late but welcome. He threw his weight behind this development saying it is a welcome initiative. “The fact that SADC has now converged to address this problem is commendable.” He also said that even though the proposed law falls into the category of non-binding soft law, he urged people not to take it for granted. “Jurisprudentially, we are moving to a stage where even judges consider soft law as part of the guidance. From that perspective, soft law is now part of international law,” said Dingake. The SADC PF has been hailed as providing a platform from which people, especially parliamentarians, can work together to resolve common problems. Dingake has played a critical role and has voiced his concerns on eradicating child marriages over the past year. In 2014 Letlhakeng District alone, recorded 36 cases of teenage pregnancy affecting girls under the age of 12 years. Although the Botswana Marriage Act of 2001, indicate 18 years as the legal age for marriage; BONELA has so far recorded 3 cases of Batswana girls aged between 10-18 years who have been married off by their parents. All the 3 cases are from the Bazezuru tribe.

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