Spain Finally Raises Marrying Age To 16 After Years Of Pressure From Child Rights Groups

Spain has finally decided to raise its marrying age, falling in line with European neighbors and giving in to pressure from children’s rights groups who said 14 was too young for a child to marry.

The minimum age of marrying will now by 16, up from 14, which had been the lowest marrying age in all of Europe. Boys and girls had been able to marry at 14 only with the permission of a judge.

The age of consent in Spain used to be even lower. Just a few months ago the nation raised the age of consent from 13 to 16.

The Spanish people had already been moving away from young marriages, the BBC noted:

According to El Pais (in Spanish), only 365 marriages involving under-16s took place in Spain between 2000 and 2014 – with only five in 2014,” the report noted. “In the 1990s, however, there were 2,678 marriages involving at least one under-16 – and 12,867 in the 1980s.”

Newlyweds are generally older in Spain to begin with. The average age for first-time marriages are 37.2 years for men and 34.1 for women.

The move to raise the marrying age in Spain was met with applause from children’s rights groups.

“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,” Gabriel González-Bueno of Unicef in Spain told The Guardian.

González-Bueno said children under 16 were not equipped to deal with marriage, which often disrupted their education and their health.

“These marriages, particularly in the case of young girls, often lead to an interruption of their studies,” he said.

But others think that children in Spain could still be getting married, though outside of the public eye.

From The Guardian:

Detailed information on exactly who is marrying at this young age is not available, said Ana Sastre of Save the Children in Spain. “Some have pointed to certain religious groups or Gypsy communities in Spain but these groups aren’t likely to register these marriages with the state,” she said. “I’m not sure our assumptions match what’s actually happening on the ground.”

Efforts to raise the marrying age in Spain were pushed in part thanks to some high-profile cases, including the 2012 death of a 13-year-old girl at the hands of her 39-year-old husband in the small town of El Salobral.The girl’s parents had tried to warn authorities that they believed the girl was in danger, but police could not intervene as the relationship was technically legal.

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