A new law passed by the government of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh set the minimum age for marriage at 18 for both male and female in an effort to reduce rates of early marriage.
“The new law is meant to protect Palestinian families and ensure the advancement of Palestinian women,” the government stated when it announced the coming law on July 27.
Exceptional cases will be determined by the chief justice.
According to statistics published by the Women’s Affairs Center in Gaza City, 37 percent of married Palestinian females wed when they were under the age of 18, including 5 percent who married before the age of 15. 63 percent of young married women suffer violence at the hands of their husband, and 95 percent will not recommend early marriage for their daughters.
Child marriage is thought to contribute to the high rate of divorce in the Palestinian territories.
“This law came to put an end to the phenomenon of early marriage in Palestinian society and give females a chance to exercise their right to education,” Ahmad Majdalani, the PA’s social affairs minister, told The Media Line. “It’s an important law that will positively reflect on Palestinian society.”
Majdalani stressed that females have the right to fully live their childhood and utilize their youth to mature physically and psychologically.
“Females are not ready or able to start a family when they themselves are very young,” he said, adding that both genders need space.
Until now, the minimum age for marriage in the West Bank has been 15 for females and 16 for males, while in the Gaza Strip it has been 17 for females and 18 for males. Judges had the power to decide otherwise in certain cases – for example, if the girl was mature and her father approved.
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 67 percent of women who divorced in the Palestinian territories in 2018 were aged 18 to 29, versus 55 percent for men.
Dina Azouni, a young Palestinian activist, feels the new law is a great improvement although the main focus should be on whether or not there is genuine consent by the female. (Source: Jerusalem Post)