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Outdated Marriage Laws Dropped By Court

Outdated Marriage Laws Dropped By Court

Following the reaffirmation that the consent age for marriage is 18 years, the Constitutional Court has outlawed child marriages. The petitioners in this case were Mr Michael Aboneka and Mr Martins Kirya.

They argued that some laws allowed child marriages of their daughters who are 16 years. This makes these laws contradict the constitution that demands that one has to be 18 or above to get married.

These laws include Section 11 (a) of the Customary Marriage Act, 1973, the Marriage and Divorce of Mohammedans Act, 1906 and the Hindu Marriage and Divorce Act, 1961.

Yesterday, five justices of the court sided with the petitioners’ arguments. They declared that parents and guardians marrying off their daughters under the aforementioned laws do so unconstitutionally.

“I would declare that Section 11 (a) of the Customary Marriage; Section 5 (1) (a) of the Marriage and Divorce of Mohammedans Act, to the extent that it permits registration of marriages involving persons below the age of 18 years and Sections 2 (1) c and d and 3 of the Hindu Marriage and Divorce are in contravention with Article 31 (1) of the Constitution because they permit girls between the age of 16 and 17 to marry, yet the highlighted constitutional provision permits marriage of only girls aged 18 years or older,” ruled Justice Elizabeth Musoke who wrote the lead decision.

Other justices on the case are Fredrick Egonda Ntende, Christopher Madrama, Monica Mugenyi and Christopher Gashirabake.

Justice Musoke analysis stated that the laws in question regulated marriages by prescribing the minimum age for marriage. She also said one law said the marriage shall be void if the girl has not attained 16 years and the boy 18 years.

“We are happy with the decision of the court. Most things had been taken as normal. Unfortunately, even the law has been empowering people to marry girls who are below the age of consent. Let’s now fight child marriages to ensure that no girl is married off without her consent and while under 18 years,” Mr Aboneka, one of the petitioners reacted to the ruling.

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