Two women (“Applicants”), aged 18 and 19 asked the Court to interpret and apply constitutional provisions to the law on marriage to address the problem of early marriages which constituted an infringement of the fundamental rights of the girl child. They argued that Section 78(1), as read with Section 81(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) 2013 (the “Constitution”), should be interpreted to mean that a person below the age of 18 years cannot marry under any law. They also sought a declaratory order to state: “(1) [t]he effect of s 78(1) of the [Constitution] is to set 18 years as the minimum age of marriage in Zimbabwe; (2) no person, male or female in Zimbabwe may enter into any marriage including an unregistered customary law union or any other union including one arising out of religion or a religious rite before attaining the age of eighteen (18); (3) Section 22(1) of the Marriage Act [Chapter 5:11] is unconstitutional; (4) [t]he Customary Marriages Act [Chapter 5:07] is unconstitutional in that it does not provide for a minimum age limit of eighteen (18) years in respect of any marriage contracted under the same, and (5) [t]he respondents pay costs of suit.”

The Zimbabwe Constitutional Court recognized and articulated many of the issues that are associated with child marriages. Many countries in Africa have ratified the ACRWC and are obligated to abolish child marriages under Article 21 of the treaty. As the Court recalls, these obligations include legislative measures such as prohibiting persons below 18 from marrying. Some countries in Africa have yet to take such legislative measures. However, States must address questions regarding enforcement of these laws, and whether the criminalization of child marriage would be the best way to ensure compliance with domestic law.