Proposal to ban child marriages in Norway

ā€“ We want to send a clear message, nationally as well as internationally, that we do not accept people under the age of 18 years getting married in Norway, says Minister of Children and Equality, Linda Hofstad Helleland. The Norwegian Government recently proposed to introduce an absolute minimum marriage age of 18 years.

The marriage age in Norway today is 18 years, but persons between the age of 16 and 18 are eligible to apply to the county governor for permission to marry. Lately very few permissions have been given. The Norwegian Government has now proposed to repeal this possibility to get permission to marry, thereby introducing an absolute minimum marriage age of 18 years. 

In 2012, the United Nations Childrenā€™s Fund reported that almost 400 million women between 20 and 49 years of age around the world had been married or had entered into a union before reaching 18 years of age. Data recently published by UNICEF shows a drop in the global number of child marriages. However, there is still a long way to go before the practice of child marriage is ended. 

The Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has pointed out, that particular attention must be had to cases in which girls have been married against their full, free and informed consent, such as when they have been married too young to be physically and psychologically ready for adult life or to make conscious and informed decisions and thus not ready to consent to marriage. 

ā€“ A child marriage may harm a child's rights to health, education, equality and a life free from violence and exploitation. A marriage should always be based on full, free and informed consent, says Helleland. 

Initiatives from organizations such as CARE and Plan International are important to raise awareness about the issue of child marriage. 

The proposal will be considered by the Parliament (Stortinget) at the end of May.