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News > Dominican Republic

Dominican Congress Passes Law Banning Child Marriage

  • Natalia, a young woman who ran away at age 16 on the eve of her wedding, poses in Barahona, Dominican Republic, Sep. 23, 2020.

    Natalia, a young woman who ran away at age 16 on the eve of her wedding, poses in Barahona, Dominican Republic, Sep. 23, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 31 December 2020 (9 hours 7 minutes ago)
Opinion

In this Caribbean country, 36 percent of girls and teenagers are married before 18, mostly to men twice their age.

Dominican Republic's Congress Wednesday passed a bill to prohibit child marriage in the Caribbean nation.

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The document catalogs early marriage as "a harmful practice that limits children's s opportunities for development and access to education."

The Executive Branch will discuss the norm that states that "a man or woman may not marry before reaching the age of 18." President Luis Abinader will be in charge of its promulgation.

The bill, which changes article 144 of the Civil Code, explains that child marriage exposes the minor to "sexual abuse, violence, and early pregnancy." 

In the Dominican Republic, 36 percent of girls and teenagers are married before 18, mostly to men twice their age, which is the highest number in Latin America, according to the NGO International Plan.

"It is unacceptable that we take first place in Latin America in something so despicable," Abinader emphasized.

According to the norm, whoever violates the law will be punished with marriage annulment, two to five years of prison, and fines from US$8,600 to US$17,200.

Congress passed the bill amid claims of Dominican Republic's feminist groups for legalizing abortion.

"Both child marriage and the criminalization of abortion are serious human rights violations. Both issues should be discus with equal importance by Congress," activist Sergia Galvan tweeted.

Two weeks ago, hundreds of women protested in front of Congress to demand the decriminalization of abortion for teenage pregnancy, danger to the woman's life, fetal malformations or rape, incest, and pedophilia.

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