San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Assembly Prohibits Marriage Under 15

After six years in the Legislative Assembly, a bill that would prohibit Costa Ricans under 15 years old from marrying was finally approved in first debate Tuesday.

The measure received legislators’ unanimous support, according to a statement from the assembly.

Now, children can marry with their parents’ permission. The Childhood and Adolescence Commission voted to send the bill to the assembly floor in November; it was first introduced by then- Ombudsman José Manuel Echandi, now a legislator for the National Union Party (PUN).

The Legislative Assembly members reasoned that people under 15 who marry are often subject to violence or even slavery, and that very young women often face high-risk pregnancy, the statement said. In addition, girls under 15 have not yet finished their high-school studies.

Between January 2000 and June 2006, 393 people under 15 were married in Costa Rica, according to the daily La Nación.Most of these marriages involved girls under 15.

Lawmakers were discussing the bill in second and final debate at press time yesterday.


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