President Abinader has approved a bill to end child marriage and safeguard the fundamental rights of children, particularly girls who had been vulnerable to this prevalent practice.
The Caribbean nation has the highest rate of child marriage in Latin America. The International Justice Ministry, an NGO, said the new law stipulates that “people under 18 years old will not be able to marry under any circumstances”. Previously, children could be forced into marriage as long as there was parental consent and permission from a judge.
“This harmful practice results in a lack of protection, inequality, lack of opportunities, and early pregnancy for girls. It also has a direct impact on the country’s economy,” explained Sonia Hernandez, Associate Director of Public Justice System Strengthening for IJM. Global experts agree it can also increase children’s vulnerability to sex trafficking.
Ending harmful practices like child marriage by 2030 is part of target 5.3 from the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals—and made all the more urgent in the pandemic.