Johannesburg - A proposal by the SA Law Reform Commission to criminalise forced marriages received support from the Young Communist League of SA (YCLSA) on Wednesday.
“If the proposal is adopted it will make it possible for the law to prosecute families and community members who assist in marriages where the female has not consented to the marriage,” said YCLSA spokesman Khaya Xaba in a statement.
Families who benefited financially from forcing their daughters to marry older men could face the full might of the law.
The Times earlier reported that the commission had, in a discussion paper, proposed a law to criminalise forced marriage or ukuthwala.
Ukuthwala is a practice where girls are abducted and forced into marriage, often with the consent of their parents.
The newspaper reported that parents and others who “aid and abet” a marriage or consent to ukuthwala could face prosecution if the wife-to-be had not agreed.
Research cited in the commission's paper found girls were often left with no choice but to marry, no matter how unhappy they might be.
It found that families desperate for money were happy to accept the prospective husband's lobola (bride price) and might even “orchestrate” forced marriages.
Girls who were married at an early age were forced to leave school and could be subjected to violent sexual abuse.