The minimum legal age for marriage in Zambia is 18, and parental consent is required if a girl or boy is 16-17. Anyone under 16 is a minor, and defilement of a minor is a serious offence, punishable by imprisonment of up to 25 years.
Patricia was 12 when she married John, four years her senior.
“My parents said they needed to benefit [from my dowry] before they die, and that’s how they ordered me to stop going to school and get married to him… They charged him 500,000 kwacha [US$110] as bride price; he paid half and they gave him a field of maize [Zambia’s staple food] to cultivate for them,” she told IRIN.
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