The Guatemalan Congress [official website, in Spanish] on Thursday approved legislation to raise to legal age for marriage to 18. The minimum legal age for marriage had been 14 for girls and 16 for boys. An exception was made so that girls who are at least 16 can still marry with the approval of a judge. The legislation was accelerated to be enacted without approval from the acting [JURIST report] president of Guatemala, Alejandro Maldonado [BBC report], and passed with a vote of 87-15. The law was announced on social media [Facebook page, in Spanish] and will come into effect when it is in print
The law was backed by UNICEF [official website] and other human rights organizations. The latest data from UNICEF in 2013 [fact sheet] showed that over 30 percent of children were already married by the age of 18 and over 7 percent by 15. The same fact sheet showed that almost 22 percent of adolescent females gave birth by age 18, and this data does not include adolescent females who became pregnant and did not carry to term. In April Malawi raised the minimum marriage age to 18 [JURIST report] for both boys and girls. Last year Bangladeshi officials approved [JURIST report] the Child Marriage Prevention Act of 2014, requiring a two-year jail term for any person who marries a girl under the age of 18.