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Discriminatory Family Code

There are three types of marriage: civil marriage, registered customary marriage and unregistered customary marriage. The legal minimum age for civil marriage under the Marriage Act in Zimbabwe is 18 years for men and 16 years for women. There is no minimum age of marriage for registered customary marriages under the Customary Marriages Act. The Domestic Violence Act of 2007 prohibits forced marriages.

Polygamy is not permitted for marriages under civil law. Customary marriages, under the Customary Marriages Act allow for polygamy.

With respect to parental authority, the Guardianship of Minors Act provides that the father is the guardian of children born in wedlock and exercises this right in consultation with the mother. In the event of divorce after a civil marriage, custody is determined in the best interests of the child.

There is no legal discrimination against women and girls with respect to inheritance rights. In 1997, the Administration of Estates Act was amended to make the surviving spouse and the children of a deceased person as his or her major beneficiaries, as opposed to their heir who was mainly the eldest son. Secondly, the Act provides that the matrimonial home, whatever the system of tenure under which it was held and wherever it may be situated, remains with the surviving spouse. This includes household goods and effects. The Act applies to all marriages, civil and customary.

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