France to raise girls' marrying age to 18

25th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 24 (AFP) - The French government is to back a measure raising the minimum age for girls to marry from 15 to 18 - the same as for boys - in a bid to clamp down on forced weddings, Justice Minister Dominique Perben said Thursday.

PARIS, March 24 (AFP) - The French government is to back a measure raising the minimum age for girls to marry from 15 to 18 - the same as for boys - in a bid to clamp down on forced weddings, Justice Minister Dominique Perben said Thursday.

"There is absolutely no reason for a difference between the two sexes. We must beware of the false freedom that allows girls to marry young and then find themselves with no freedom at all," he said.

"It is hard to know the number of forced marriages because people hide behind family privacy. But that does not mean we cannot take measures to discourage them," he said.

The government has therefore decided to back an amendment to an opposition bill on family violence which would bring the minimum age for girls up to 18, Perben said. The bill appears before the upper house, the Senate, on Tuesday.

Article 144 of France's civil code, drawn up under Napoleon in 1803, states that "no man can marry until 18 years have passed and no woman until 15 years have passed."

Under the proposed amendment, the article would read: "No man or woman can marry until 18 years have passed."

The existing rule "is a breach of the republican principle of equality and is in complete contradiction with recent laws on equal rights between men and women," the preamble to the amendment reads.

It notes that the minimum age for girls to marry has been raised to 18 in several countries, including Morocco and many EU members, in the interest of protecting girls from forced weddings.

"By maintaining this distinction for women France shirks the principle of equality which the president himself has said is a national priority," it reads.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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