Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Minimum age of marriage

Israel has raised the legal minimum age of marriage to 18, but this is unlikely to prevent the early marriages which circumvented the prior minimum age of 17...

17-year-old wives: Law passed too late for us

Several groups of ultra-Orthodox Jews, Israeli-Arabs conduct underage marriages, say new law, to raise minimum age for marriage, will not make great difference. With 11,000 underage marriages a year, will law change current custom?

"A new law passed by the Knesset on Monday that permits marriage starting from the age of 18 is not impressing Hasidic members of the haredi public and several groups with the Israeli-Arab sector in which underage marriage is quite common. In many such communities, there are couples who tie the knot before their 17th birthday – the minimum age before the new law.

According to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics, 11,747 girls under the age of 18 were married in Israel during 2011. From 2000 to 2009, 19,863 girls married at the age of 18; 15,020 girls said their vows by their 17th birthday; and 2,548 girls up to the age of 16 committed to their partner for the rest of their lives.

According to Hasidic custom, the sons of distinguished rebbis marry even earlier in order to minimize the time frame between puberty and their wedding, and to prevent young males from inappropriate thoughts or worse – sinful deeds.

The legislation is not expected to raise the minimum age for marriage in those communities, as they already ignore the existing law. The ceremony at underage marriages in these communities is conducted privately by rabbis who do not report the event to the authorities. The registration for the wedding is completed at a later date, when both the bride and the groom reach the legal age."

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