Israel raises minimum marriage age to 18

Haredi MKs spoke out against bill, meant to prevent teenagers from being forced into marriages at a young age.

November 4, 2013 22:28
1 minute read.
A bride on her wedding day

Bride on her wedding day [illustrative] 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin)

Israel's legal marriage age was increased from 17 to 18 on Monday night, the Knesset voted overwhelmingly in favor of the measure.

A bill to that effect, proposed by coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu), MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad), MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) and MK Dov Henin (Hadash), among others, passed its second and third (final) readings with 55 in favor and 11 opposed.

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Haredi MKs spoke out against the bill, which is meant to prevent teenagers from being forced into marriages when they are too young to make decisions that will impact the rest of their lives.

In some cases, such as teen pregnancy, a court can allow an exception for those over age 16.

MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said the law discriminates against haredim.

“You’re fanatics! You’re hypocrites,” he said.

“This is hypocrisy on the issue of freedom of individuals. Why are you getting involved in personal lives? Why should someone get involved if a person wants to get married under age 17? This is audacity,” MK Yisrael Eichler (UTJ) said.

MK Nissim Ze’ev (Shas) accused Muslim men of kidnapping Israeli teenage girls and said a 16-year-old can’t be forced to leave an Arab village, even if the law won’t allow her to get married.

Gal-On and MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta’al) accused Ze’ev of racism.

After the bill was authorized, Zoabi called it “one of the rare good laws passed by the Knesset.”

Levin said the bill “puts Israel in line with the most progressive countries in the world and puts an end to forced marriage of minors.”

“We saved thousands of young women today,” Levin said.

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