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Calls for raising legal minimum age from 16 to 21

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 25, 2009) – There are claims teenage girls in Fiji are marrying too young and that the legal marriage age should be raised.

Currently girls can marry at the age of 16 with the consent of their parents or guardian or at 21 without consent.

But the Suva Women’s Prison says in the past year more than half the murder cases they have seen in the prison have been cases of young women committing infanticide.

And the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre director Shamima Ali says early marriages are bringing a lot of other social problems.

"Domestic violence, suicide and also pregnancies, early pregnancies they take a toll on these women, and this is a very abusive situation, women being forced into these marriages, it has an effect on their education, and people are taking advantage, particularly in rural areas, marrying off their daughters"

Shamima Ali says the legal marriage age should have been raised in the family law bill.

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