5.2.1 Legal aspects of early marriage
What is the legal age for marriage in Ethiopia? What would you do if you encountered an adolescent girl being married before the legal age for marriage?
In Ethiopia, any marriage arrangement made when either of the couple is underage, and/or without their consent or approval, is illegal and punishable by law. The law forbids the marriage of boys and girls under the age of 18 years. If you become aware that a young girl is going to marry before she turns 18, you need to advise the families that early marriage has many harmful consequences and is against Ethiopian family law. If you can’t contact the families or if they ignore your advice and seem likely to continue with such a marriage you need to notify the appropriate government agencies, including the Office of Women’s Affairs or nearby police, so that early marriage can be prevented and the law is respected.
As you have seen, early marriage is associated with many health and social consequences which could be prevented if the community has sufficient knowledge and the law is enforced.