Uzbekistan: Increased Penalties for Underage Marriage

Uzbekistan recently took action to curb underage marriage in the country. A new law, which took effect May 1, 2013, increases penalties for violation of legislation on marriage age (currently set at age 18 for men and age 17 for women). Under the new law, those who marry underage individuals could face fines up to 30 times the minimum monthly wage, a sentence of one year hard labor or three months imprisonment. Parents or guardians who arrange underage marriages face even steeper penalties, as do those who conduct religious ceremonies.
 
The law is one of several approaches the country is taking to address the issue of early marriage. Other efforts include increasing education in the school system, developing public awareness campaigns, and ensuring that Muslim clerics refrain from performing marriage ceremonies for underage individuals without a proper civil marriage registration.
 
Early marriages currently comprise 8-9 percent of total marriages in the country as a whole, and up to 14 percent in certain regions.  Underage marriage is widely recognized as marking the end of girls’ education and contributing to a cycle of poverty.
 
Uzbekistan was recently examined for compliance with its obligations under the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. Underage marriage was included in the list of issues, and the Committee focused on ascertaining what action the government had taken to raise the women’s age of marriage to 18 to match the legal age for men and comply with international law.  
 
Compiled from: Saadi, Shakar, Uzbek Legislation Discourages Underage Marriage,” Central Asia Online, June 4, 2013; Agence France-Presse, Uzbekistan Cracks Down on Underage Marriage,” Global Post, May 6, 2013; Uzbekistan Strengthens Punishment for Early Marriages,” UzDaily, May 3, 2013; Committee on the Rights of the Child Reviews Report of Uzbekistan,” UN OHCHR, June 5, 2013.