Antigua Senate gives green light to amend marriage legislation


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(CMC) — The senate has given its support for an amendment to existing legislation that increases the age of marriage from 15 to 18 years.

Leader of Government Business Marie Claire Hurst, in supporting the Marriage Amendment Bill 2019, said that at age 15 children should be concentrating on their education and not on becoming married.

She said they should be, at this stage, trying to enter university — and “that is what should be encouraged”.

Under the previous legislation, individuals between the ages 15 to 18 could get married but required the consent of their parents, but the amended legislation increases the age to 18 years. Hurst said under existing laws, individuals cannot be legally employed here until the age of 16, yet were being able to get married at 15 years.

“You cannot give sexual consent but you could get married at 15. There is something about it that we needed to address, and this is the situation in Antigua and Barbuda,” she said.

Another legislator, Shenella Govia said Antigua needed to safeguard the rights of children, given the fact that a number of people from other Caribbean countries where marriages at an early age are accepted, reside here.

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