Members of Parliament last year backed a private-member motion to criminalize child marriage. The motion mandates government to enact legislation to criminalize child marriages. A child is any person (boy or girl) aged 18 and below.
The Green Party does not believe that the solution to end early marriage lies in criminalization of the vice. Sending a person to jail is not, and will never be the solution to early marriages.
Criminalization as a solution shows lack of understanding of the root cause of the vice.
The root cause of early marriage in Zambia, and elsewhere, is child poverty. Without a deliberate policy that ends child poverty, it will be impossible to end early marriage in Zambia, and elsewhere.
Ensuring that every child in Zambia has enough to live a decent life is one of the biggest moral and economic challenges of modern times. Seven in ten Zambian children live below the poverty line.
This is a situation inherited, and tolerated by successive governments since the economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s. Child poverty has since worsened .
The Green Party has a multi-billion dollar policy to reduce child poverty. The policy includes introducing measures to allocate 75% of the PRSP budget to reducing child poverty, scaling it up to US$12 billion by 2021. This revenue will then be invested to fund:
1. A Children’s Credit Scheme that will give U$100 a month per child to families, at a cost of U$5 billion a year;
2. A Parental Credit of U$220 a month in the first five years of life for the poorest children, costing US $720 million a year;
3. A US $3 billion per year investment in children’s health and education to reduce the harm caused by poverty.