n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - Forced child marriage practiced under the pretext of customary marriage in South Africa

Volume 15, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-1383



In South Africa forced child marriage is practised by the Zulu and the Bapedi. In Zulu it is called "" and in Sepedi it is called "". These concepts appear to be culturally acceptable because in customary marriages the family groups of the prospective parties (to their marriage) give consent to their daughters' marriages to men without necessarily informing them. The two terms will be treated under one word "" - the Zulu practice of forced child marriage. The aim of this article is to explore the concept of forced child marriage because the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act 120 of 1998 does not give enough protection to girl children who cannot give consent if their parents act on their behalf. Forced child marriage is discussed in terms of its nature, the extent to which it is practiced, its incidence, consequences and current measures in place for its prevention in the South African context. The conclusion is that "" is a form of forced marriage that robs girls of their human rights, including education. It further violates specifications of the following South African legal instruments: the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Children's Act of 2005 and the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act 120 of 1998 in 2000. The implications are that empirical research should be done and more campaigns should be launched to educate the public about girl children dropping out of school due to being forced by their parents to get married before they have developed into full adults.

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