But it’s still legal in Bangladesh, Tanzania, and New York City.
It’s finally happened — Malawi has officially outlawed child marriage.
Previously, children as young as 15 could marry with parental consent. Now, it will be illegal to marry if you are under 18.
It’s been a long time coming. After years of campaigning, Parliament voted to change the constitution on February 14. Now, President Peter Mutharika has finally signed the constitutional amendment, passing The Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act into law.
— Girls Not Brides (@GirlsNotBrides) April 26, 2017
According to Voice of America, anybody convicted of marrying a minor will now face five years imprisonment and a $143 fine. Previous loopholes permitting child marriage with parental consent have been closed.
Jessie Kabwila, chairperson of the women’s caucus of Malawi’s parliament, praised the move.
“That amendment is showing exactly the aspiration of Malawians — that we are saying ‘no’ in totality to child marriage,” she said. “The loopholes that were remaining of giving consent to parents are no longer there.”
The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) reports that over the next decade 150 million girls will be married before they turn 18. Right now, approximately a third of all girls in developing countries are married by the same age, whilst one in nine are married under the age of 15. Malawi has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world — in 2010, half of women aged 20-24 had married before their 18th birthday.