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News > Brazil

Bill To Ban Child Marriages Moves Forward in Brazilian Senate

  • Brazil Senate approves bill for banning child marriage. | Representational image.

    Brazil Senate approves bill for banning child marriage. | Representational image. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 February 2019

Brazil’s Senate approved a bill that would ban child marriage in the country. South America and the Caribbean have one of the highest rates of child marriages.

The Brazilian Senate approved a bill Wednesday that prohibits the marriage of children under 16. Brazil has the highest rate of child marriages in Latin America.


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According to Agencia Brasil, the bill said exceptions would be allowed when parents or guardians of the children authorize the marriages. This clause is preserved in the Civil Code of the country.

Laura Carneiro, the former federal lawmaker brought forth the proposal.

Child marriage is widely accepted in Brazil, where girls seek older husbands to escape from sexual and other violence in the home, or because of teenage pregnancies or the lack of job opportunities.

“Child marriage in Brazil is very normalized and accepted,” said Alice Taylor, lead author of a 2015 report, whose researchers say it was the first study of its kind in Brazil.

Plan International, Brazil’s Federal University of Para and the gender equality charity Promundo undertook the report which said that there was an assumption about child marriages taking place in rural areas only, which is false.

Brazil is ranked fourth in the world in the number of girls married to or living with a partner by the age of 15, with 877,000 women aged 20 to 24 reporting they were married by 15, according to a Brazilian government census in 2010.

Child marriage in Brazil and across Latin America is “mostly informal and consensual,” unlike South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa which have a “more ritualized and formal nature of the practice,” the report found.

Efforts to stem child marriage have largely focused on sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where it is most prevalent, and have ignored Latin America, the report said.

A more recent report by UNICEF said that South Asia recorded a decrease in child marriage from 50 to 30 percent in the past 10 years, while Latin America and the Caribbean have recorded a constant, unmodified rate of 25 percent.

Only four countries in the region have banned child marriage, including Honduras, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, and Guatemala.

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