16 February, 2009

The Minimum Age For Marriage

This is great news: the Yemeni Parliament has just approved a new minimum age for marriage. It will be seventeen now. The law raises the minimum age for marriage - for both boys and girls - to 17, and provides for the right to alimony and recognition of the mother as the sole guardian of her children:

The parliament has just endorsed a number of amendments for two important laws: the personal status law and the civil law. The amendments, approved first by the Jurisprudence Committee and then voted on by the whole Parliament, were mainly focused on women and children rights, with particular focus on deciding their future, spending their money, and being compensated for a marriage when a marriage is terminated.

One of the amendments defines the minimum age of marriage for boys and girls. The proposal was originally for 15 years at least, because those advocating for a minimum age for marriage realized that they needed to eat the elephant bit by bit. The talk was, “let us ensure no girls or boys get married before 15, and in the next course of action we will demand raising the age.”

But the parliament surprised us with a gift of two extra years, and the minimum age for marriage was defined by law at 17 for boys and girls. And this is simply splendid news. It shows that the members of parliament (MPs) are trustworthy men who, when reasoned with, can approve a law in the best interest of the people. Yemen Times

The amendments include facilitating pre-marital medical checks to determine genetic faults, dangerous diseases or health risks, as well as restricting polygamy to the husband's ability to support more than one family.

"Fairness is included in all aspects, such as time spent with each wife, housing and logistics," said the Yemen Times.

"The first wife also has to be legally notified of his intention of marrying another to allow them to make future decisions."

Other amendments included a women’s right to alimony for her children once a divorce has taken place and the custody of children to be exclusively granted to the mother for the first twelve years of the children’s life.

The new amendments also recognise the mother as the sole guardian of orphaned children, providing that is approved by a judge. AKI

A new Yemen law that limits the minimum age of marriage to 17 was welcomed by child-rights organizations, but they said it would require rigorous awareness campaigns in order to stamp out the widespread phenomenon of child marriages.

The Yemenite parliament approved the law last Wednesday, limiting the age of marriage for both boys and girls to a minimum of 17.

Parents who marry off younger children will be jailed for a year or fined the equivalent of about $500. The Media Line

Read the remarkable but very sad story of Nojoud Ali here and here, which very much influenced and lead to these new laws to be passed.

Very few countries in the Middle East, especially in the Arabian Peninsular - have such great and noble laws as Yemen: refugees from neighboring countries are much better protected here; those suffering from HIV/AIDS are, too, better protected and served here than in most of our neighboring countries; and now - these new laws which mainly protect children and women, have been passed. Thanks to our legislators. We owe it to them; all that remains is to enforce these great and very noble laws and make them work.