Meknes - The phenomenon of child marriage doesn’t exist in Morocco, but girls who are 16 or 17 years old get married voluntarily and ask for a judge’s approval themselves, according to Abdelilah Benkirane in an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE on June 3.
Meknes – The phenomenon of child marriage doesn’t exist in Morocco, but girls who are 16 or 17 years old get married voluntarily and ask for a judge’s approval themselves, according to Abdelilah Benkirane in an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE on June 3.
Benkirane said that the forced marriage of minors’ phenomenon does not exist in Morocco. “Contrary to what we believe, many minor girls get married voluntarily. They are generally 16 and 17 years old. In several regions, they do not go to school, so they should find a solution,” said the Head of Government. 134,000 children in Morocco, especially girls, do not go to school, according to the latest UNESCO statistics.
According to these statements, the Prime Minister seems to believe that the legitimacy of child marriage depends more on whether it was voluntary rather than age, and seems to be subject to exceptions. However, the law depends clearly on jurisdiction and application. Generally, a person is a minor when he or she is usually under the age of majority, which is 18 in Morocco, when a person is considered an adult.
More precisely, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a minor as “a human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.” Thus, upon turning 18, boys and girls are considered legal adults. Under 18 years, they are minors.
In Morocco, even if the legal age for marriage is 18 years, girls of 16 years can still get married legally, if they obtain the consent of the judge and enter the marriage voluntarily. But the question of voluntarity is complicated, and can be subject to misogynist manipulation or the «old mentality» of some parents.
Minors who are obliged to get married can also be obliged to say it is voluntary, even if it is not. 2014 statistics reported by the Minister of Justice show 35,152 cases of child marriage in the country. Others about the undocumented -customary- marriage reported by the Morocco’s Ytto Foundation released statistics on undocumented “customary” marriages in the same year. The Ytto Foundation reported that 52 percent of brides in the Midelt province are minors. Some are even as young as 12 or 13 years old.