16 Jul 2009

Fiji's women's minister applauds lift of marriage age

2:39 pm on 16 July 2009

Fiji's Minister for Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation is applauding a change to the legal marriage age.

The interim government has amended the marriage act by a decree which makes 18 the age at which both women and men may marry without parental consent.

Previously women could marry with their parents' consent at 16.

The minister, Dr Jiko Leveni, says the law change will discourage foreign-run trafficking of women from Fiji and prevent young women from poor families from being forcibly married.

"We have evidence of girls younger than 18 who are being sold to older men for financial reasons and these young girls have gone through abuse by these older men and they are forced to have children, so many children, so young, which is detrimental to their health and social wellbeing."

Dr Jiko Leveni says she's aware of some young women being married off for as little as a hundred dollars.