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Ban on child marriage proves hard to enforce in Mexico

Reporter: Martin Markovits 丨 CCTV.com

07-22-2016 15:08 BJT

Mexico City has just passed an ordinance that outlaws child marriage, including those with parental consent. A federal law already bans the practice, but the federal government has had a tough time enforcing it. 

Marisela Antonio Cruz never wanted to get married at 16. Growing up in a poor neighborhood outside of Mexico she finished school at 13 to work with her mother as a housekeeper. But when her father found out she had a boyfriend. He forced her to make a decision.

"I got married very young because I was very scared. My father would hit me because he said I had embarrassed him and the family. He made get married. He said there was no other way," said Marisela Antonio Cruz, child bride. 

Marisela's story is all too common in Mexico. Despite passing a federal law in 2014 setting a legal limit of marriage at 18, many states have failed to comply. More than a dozen states still allow women to marry as young as 14 years- old as long they have parental consent. 

Last week, Mexico City passed a municipal ordinance setting the age at 18 with no exceptions. But in other parts of the country has proven to be much tough to pass similar laws especially in poor, rural areas.    

Child marriage is especially prevalent in poor shantytown communities like this one where in has been a long standing cultural tradition.

According to the Mexican government, one out of five women are married before the age of 18. Some blame the machismo culture, a lack of educational opportunities and poverty stricken conditions as the main reasons why this practice still goes on. 

One analyst believes the Mexican government needs to make a greater effort in enforcing its federal laws across the country. 

"Girls who live in other parts of the Mexico, they live by another code of human rights. So, you have these 16 states where the minimum age is 18, but then you have these other states, where that is still not the case. This creates heavy discrimination," said Alejandro Galland, legislative analyst for reproductive rights.  

Last year, the United Nations urged Mexico to outlaw child marriages and launched an initiative calling for an end to early marriage. Although more states are amending their laws, government action might not be enough to change this cultural practice. 


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