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Girls & Women

Guatemala raises the minimum age for marriage to 18

Flickr- David Amsler

Guatemala’s Congress just voted to raise the country’s minimum legal age for marriage to 18! This is big, exciting, news. Not just for girls in Guatemala, but for all the girls forced into child marriage—every two secondsaround the world.

Before the congressional vote on November 5 girls in Guatemala could get married at 14 and boys at 16. The new law not only works to protect young girls often pressured or forced into marriage, but also closes the gender gap by holding girls and boys to the same age standard.

As one Congressman said, the new law, “breaks with a mistaken tradition,” and will hopefully work to prevent child trafficking and teen pregnancies.

In Guatemala, 4,000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 get married each year and 4,700 girls between 10 and 14 get pregnant. When girls are forced into these very adult situations at such a young age it essentially destroys their chances of completing their education or reaching their full potential. Giving birth at such a young age is also very dangerous. Instead of playing with friends, going to school, imagining their dream job--things so many young teenagers take for granted--girls are left to care for their home’s, husband’s and children, with few opportunities to earn the money needed to do so. They become trapped in cycles of poverty.

Raising the legal age for marriage is a step in the right direction.

With all the legitimate concerns about girls’ and women’s rights in Central America—from dangerously strict abortion laws in El Salvador to rising rates of horrific gender-based violence—it’s inspiring to know that governments are taking action, and changing policy to help secure girls’ futures.

Girls around the world deserve the right to grow up... the right to a quality education… the right to pursue their ambitions. SHARE this article if you agree!

And you can also click on TAKE ACTION NOW to tell US Secretary of State John Kerry to help end child marriage! 


Note: This article includes discussion of reproductive rights. The UN considers such issues to be human rights issues, but not all partners involved in Global Citizen agree with this position, and therefore this article should not be considered to express the views of all groups involved with Global Citizen.