The Knesset is expected to vote this week on two bills that would raise the legal age of marriage in Israel by a year to 18.
The proposals’ sponsors say the aim is to prevent the forced marriage of girls, particularly in the Arab and ultra-Orthodox communities, before they have graduated from high school and gained the maturity to make critical life decisions.
The first of the two draft laws is sponsored by MK Hanin Zuabi (Balad ). This morning, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation is scheduled to decide whether to give cabinet backing to the second bill, proposed by MK Yariv Levin (Likud ) and initiated by Likud MK and Deputy Minister for the Advancement of Young People, Students and Women, Gila Gamliel.
“In many cases, especially in tribal and traditional societies such as the Bedouin, marriage is forced on young teenage girls, who are viewed as property that is passed from her father to the intended husband,” Levin explained.
“Child marriage, even with the minors’ consent, often hurts their potential to obtain an education, to develop a career and to break out of the cycle of poverty,” he said, adding that research has shown that early marriages have higher rates of divorce, domestic violence and economic problems than other marriages.
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