International Justice Mission (IJM) is celebrating the victory of the bill that is banning child marriage in the Dominican Republic.
Previously, parents could legally marry off their children under the age of 18 with permission from a judge, which caused multiple issues for the country as a whole. Now no one under the age of 18 can marry for any reason.
"Through this law, a new stage begins in the country. Our girls and adolescents will be protected…and cannot be forced into marriage in their childhood or adolescence," says Sonia Hernandez, Associate Director of Public Justice System Strengthening for International Justice Mission (IJM).
The law was passed on January 6, 2021.
According to their Instagram post celebrating the news, IJM says, "Since June 2020, IJM has led a movement of grassroots organizations calling for child marriage to be declared unconstitutional."
Anytime there is a legal marriage when one or two people getting married are under 18 years of age, it constitutes as child marriage. According to IJM, this is a form of modern-day slavery. Most often a child marriage includes a young girl married to an older man, according to UNICEF.
"The Dominican Republic has the highest rate of child marriage in Latin America, so this law reform is an important step in protecting children, especially girls, from exploitation," says IJM in their post.
President Luis Abinader is the one who passed the bill.
"This harmful practise results in a lack of protection, inequality, lack of opportunities, and early pregnancy for girls. It also has a direct impact on the country's economy,” says Hernandez.
Getting rid of child marriage can also help with poverty issues, as UNICEF says it will decrease the country's poverty by up to 10 per cent.