Child marriage

Guatemala raises legal marriage age to 18

Schoolgirls talk near a fountain at the Parque Central in Guatemala City. REUTERS/Daniel LeClair

Lawmakers in Guatemala passed legislation on Thursday that raises the age for legal marriage to 18. Under the previous law, the legal marriage age was 16 for boys and 14 for girls. Going forward, the legal age will be 18 for both genders, however lawmakers also included a clause that allows for girls to be married at 16 provided they first obtain authorization from a judge. The new law will also allow law enforcement to treat cases of sex with underage people as rape, according to Congressman Leonel Lira, who supported the bill. “This breaks with a mistaken tradition,” Lira said, alluding to the high number of young girls who are often persuaded into marriage by suitors at a very young age.

If you think a legal marriage age of 14 with a judge’s authorization sounds wildly out of step with the developed world, consider that in U.S. state of Massachusetts, girls as young as 12 can be married, provided they obtain parental consent and a judicial waiver.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.

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