Couple holding a wedding rings 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The minimum legal marriage age will be increased to 18, according to a bill
approved for its final votes by the Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice
Committee on Wednesday.
The legislation, proposed by coalition chairman
Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu), Meretz leader Zehava Gal- On and MK Dov Henin
(Hadash), among others, raises the minimum age for marriage by one year. In some
cases a court can authorize a marriage for someone age 16 and up, but the judge
will have to hear testimony from the bride or groom.
The purpose of the
bill is to prevent minors from getting married when they are not prepared to
make such a major life decision. It is also meant to encourage more teenagers to
finish high school.
The legislation will have to pass second and third
(final) readings in the plenum before becoming law.
Committee made a historic decision,” Levin said. “Israel is now in line with
progressive countries and we are putting an end to minors being forced to get
married at a young age.”
Gal-On, who proposed similar bills in the
previous three Knessets, said “the main victims of these marriages are young
women whose families force or pressure them to get married out of an idea that a
woman’s place is in the home and her job is to give birth to and raise
“We want women to get married out of agreement and understand
of the ramifications of marriage and having children,” Gal-On
If the marriage age remains at 17, “the freedom of choice will
be for parents, not for children,” MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) said. “This bill
defends the rights of minors.
Tradition didn’t give them free
UTJ MK Uri Maklev opposed the bill, saying it “harms normative
population groups who want their youth to get married young, because that is
This is a violation of civil rights.”
Michaeli (Shas) warned that the legislation would encourage “pirated” weddings
for populations that disagree with the law.
The Rackman Center for the
Advancement of the Status of Women at Bar-Ilan University said that over 4,500
minors are married in a year, 4,000 of whom are women. About half of the married
minors are Jewish, and approximately 500 of them are under 16. Over 500 girls a
year give birth before they are 17 years old.
“The existing law was
passed over 60 years ago and does not fit with social developments and research
on the topic since then,” Rackman Center chairwoman Prof. Ruth Halperin- Kadari
said. “The time has come to adopt this law in Israel and prevent early marriage
and motherhood by women who are not ready for it physically or
Raising the minimum marriage age also decreases womens’
exposure to violence in the family.”