Malawi outspoken minister for gender, children, disability and social welfare, Patricia Kaliati has expressed excitement with news that President Peter Mutharika has approved a law which lifts the age for marriage from 16 to 18.
The Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Bill was ratified by parliament on February 12 and President Mutharika has since has signed it into law recognising marriages between men and women, disappointing gay rights activists.
Some pro-gay activists recently petitioned Mutharika not to approve the bill, saying it still contained unresolved issues, especially those pertaining to gay rights.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Malawi, where most people hold deeply conservative religious and cultural beliefs.
Kaliati said on Wednesday that she was “excited and happy” that the Head of State has assented to the bill, making it a law.
“I welcome this development; my ministry worked hard to have it [the bill] passed in parliament,” said a jovial-sounding Kaliati.
“It is a statement that we are committed to ending child marriages in Malawi,” she asserted.
Kaliati said her ministry will continue with the the fight to end early marriages and keep girls in school.
“The new law will also help the courts hand out stiff penalties to offenders,” she added.
The new law covers a wide range of issues, including giving a widow a share in her husband’s property, ruling out the need for a will.
The law also states that if an underage couple have a child, the boy’s family will be financially responsible for the baby until the couple are able to support themselves and the child.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :