Sunday, August 30, 2009

Muluzi's lawyer Assani okeys marriage at 16

Former Malawi Director of Public Prosecutions and former president Bakili Muluzi's leading lawyer says he sees no problems with girls and boys marrying at 16 and above. Pic by Malawi Digest.

By Lucy Liponda

One of the leading lawyers for former Malawi president Bakili Muluzi, Fahad Assani has said that he is in full support of the amendment in the country’s marriage age that has now been put by Parliament at between 16 to 18 years.

Assani, who is also the country’s former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) said in an interview with one of Malawi’s leading dailies, The Nation that he sees no problem in the amendment as responsibility for a child rests with parents or guardians.

“People should read that section carefully. What it means now is that girls even boys between the age of 16 and 18 will not be allowed to get married without consent of their parents or guardians.

“Previously, it was 15 to 18 years. This means if one is above 18, they can get married with no restrictions. The responsibility remains with parents not to facilitate the marriage of young girls to boys,” Assani.

Assani said he believed the law which requires getting consent from parents was framed to protect girls that are in school, but said consideration should also be made of girls of 16 years and above that dropped out of school but are ready for marriage.

Meanwhile another law academician Dr Msaiwale Chigawa of the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College has also come out in the open to support the amendment.

Chigawa, who is a Constitutional law expert but also participated in the National Constitutional Review Conference of 2006/07 said delegates settled for 16 years and above for people to enter into marriage with the consent of parents or guardians after considering realities on the ground in various cultural settings.

The law expert Chigawa said many Malawians enter into customary marriage and not the statutory one, arguing that in villages, girls marry at 16 or 17, hence it would be unrealistic to have a law that would prove difficult to enforce.

He said strong suggestions were made at the conference to push the age from 15 to 18, but they were defeated for the simple reason that this would be unrealistic.

Chigawa said the conference also reviewed leaving the minimum age at 15 as sanctioning marriage of young people.

Chigawa said they felt that the Constitution was contradicting itself as Section 23 (5) states that “for purposes of this section, children shall be persons under 16 years of age” while Section 22 (7) states that “for persons between the age of 15 and 18, marriage shall only be entered into with the consent of their parents or guardians.”

The Malawi National Assembly recently made an amendment on Section 22 (7) under Family and Marriage, which falls under Human Rights Chapter.

The amended bill, if Malawi President Ngwazi Dr Bingu wa Mutharika assents to it, shall read: “For persons between the age of 16 and 18 years, a marriage shall only be entered into with the consent of their parents or guardians.”-Malawi Digest.

1 comment:

  1. Does Nyasa Times know this? Ignorant people. Paja amati empty tins make a lot of noise