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Divorcing husband arrested for child marriage

A Zambian man has been arrested after he admitted to a divorce court that he married his wife when she was just 13 years old.

The couple had appeared in a magistrates court in Lusaka, capital of the southern African nation, when the wife sued her husband for divorce. She complained of his drunken behaviour, physical abuse and infidelity, saying she had contracted a sexually-transmitted disease as a result.

The wife claimed that he had boasted of being immune to HIV. She told the courtroom:

“He says I am not woman enough for him. So I want this marriage I can live my life in peace and he can go ahead and enjoy his many women.”

The magistrates noted that the couple had been married since 2001 and had one child together. But when they enquired how old the wife had been when she married, she told them:

“Thirteen years old.”

They asked the husband if he had known her age when they married, and he said that he had.

A magistrate then told him:

“Don’t you know that it is illegal to marry a child? You will have to go and explain at the Chawama police after we conclude with this case.”

Chawama is a district of Lusaka.

According to the Zambia Daily Mail, the husband was “visibly shaken” by this, and insisted that the underage marriage had not really mattered because his bride had looked “bigger than her age”.

He resisted his wife’s divorce application, insisting that he still loved his wife and promising to be faithful in the future. But the magistrates granted the wife’s application, ordering him to pay her 12,000 Zambian kwachas (£1,066) in compensation for his behaviour, to be paid in monthly instalments of K1,000 (£88.94), in addition to monthly child maintenance payments of K350. The couple’s property was split 50:50.

 Image of Lusaka by Matthew Grollnek via Wikipedia

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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