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Core Elements of Legislation on Forced and Child Marriage

The following elements should be established as the core elements of any law on forced and child marriage:

  • The free and full consent of both parties;
  • A minimum age for marriage of 18 years of age for both parties;
  • Recognition of and prohibition against the various forms of forced marriage and related harmful practices, including: child marriage, situations of sexual slavery and forced labor, bride kidnapping, trafficking of women and girls, wife inheritance, marriage as settlement or payment, international marriage brokering, and polygamy;
  • A system for the registration of all marriages, births and deaths;
  • Granting the same legal status to parties in customary and/or religious marriages as those in civil marriages;
  • Criminal penalties for violation of the law;
  • Civil remedies for victims;
  • The legal consequences of a forced or child marriage (automatic annulment or right to no-fault divorce);
  • Public education campaigns about human rights, women’s rights and laws on forced and child marriage aimed at raising awareness in both urban and rural areas; and
  • Trainings for all relevant agencies; the legal sector, including judges, prosecutors, law enforcement; advocates; social services; education, and; third-sector support agencies regarding human rights standards on forced and child marriage.