Spain Raises Minimum Marriage Age from 14 to 16
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NEW DELHI: Spain seem poised to raise the minimum age bar for marriage from current 14 years to 16 years for its citizens.
A Parliamentary Justice Commission finished a draft on Tuesday which proposed the change. The draft will now be debated in the Senate.
Spain has one of the lowest age limit for consensual sex and marriage not only in Europe but around the world. It allows for consensual sex for the children who have attained the age of 13, and marriage with parental consent for 16 year olds . 14 year olds, can marry with the consent of a judge. Stipulated age for marriage without consent in Spain is 18.
The resulting reform has been born out of years of advocacy for children's rights and vehement voicing of fears of their exploitation and forced marriages, which is especially true for teenage girls.
According to a report in The Guardian, Gabriel González-Bueno of Unicef in Spain said, “There’s a risk that these young children are being forced into marriages or being married off as a consequence of an agreement in which they had little say,”.
With the implementation of the new law, 14 and 15 year olds won't be able to marry while 16 years old may do so with the permission from parents or a judge.
The new law will ensure that young teenagers are not forced into a marriage and abandon their education as a result, which happens very often in cases of early marriages. This move will also dissuade teenagers to exchange vows too early, even when their consent is involved.
Ironically, for a country with such a low age limit for marriage, the average age of newlyweds is 37.2 for men and 34.1 for women.
Although it's a welcome move since the raise in the age limit will give discretionary power to most concerned parties involved in such a crucial decision of their lives, the number of early teenagers going for nuptials is not quite rampant.
In the year 2013, four boys and 31 girls aged 16 went for marriage while there was only one each from 14 and 15 age group.
The protests for increasing the age limit for marriage grew vociferous in 2012 when a 13-year old girl was killed by her 39-year old boyfriend in a village El Salobral near Albacete. The parents of the girl approached police and alerted them about the relationship, but latter refused to intervene saying their relationship was legal and consensual as per law of the land.
The new law is likely to come into effect by July.