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Submissions open on teen marriage bill

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/06/2017

A proposed law change aiming to protect teenagers from forced marriages is now open for public submissions.

Parliament's justice and electoral committee is inviting public submissions on the Marriage (Court consent to Marriage of Minors) Amendment Bill, which has passed its first reading. The bill is a member's bill, sponsored by National MP Joanne Hayes.

It will require 16 and 17-year-olds who wish to marry to apply to court and get the consent of a Family Court judge. Currently only parental consent is needed.

Ms Hayes told parliament that child marriage and forced marriage are the most horrific culture practices that could happen.

If the bill passes it will not be legal to issue a marriage licence to a young couple without the court's approval. The bill sets out rules about how the court is to consider these applications.

In New Zealand, the age of consent to marry is 18 years. At present, people 16 and 17 years old can get married with their parents' consent. This happens about 80 times a year in New Zealand.

Marriage is illegal for people under the age of 16 years.

The bill aims to help prevent forced marriages of young people when they don't or can't consent to marriage, but are pressured or forced to do so.

Submissions on the bill can be made up until midnight on July 21.

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