New Zealand: Government Resists Call to Change Marriage Law
Wednesday, February 1, 2012 12:30 PM

The government of New Zealand is resisting calls by UNICEF and other advocacy groups to change its marriage law.  Advocates are calling for the government to increase the legal marriage age from 16 to 18 to help combat the problem of forced marriage. However, a government spokeswoman explained New Zealand will continue using education to combat the problem rather than update the law. Justice Minister Judith Collins explained, “Forced marriage is illegal in New Zealand - we have one law for everyone, irrespective of their culture and tradition…Making further changes to the law is not the most effective way to address the issue of forced marriage.”  

Despite government assertions that the law is adequate, Shasha Ali, the coordinator for Shakti, an ethnic support group in the country, explained that they are seeing increasing numbers of young women and girls, some as young as 13, who have been subjected to forced marriage, and UNICEF estimates there are 25 cases each year in New Zealand. 

Compiled from:  Paredes, Arlene, NZ Government Rejects UNICEF Plea for Marriage Law Change, International Business Times (31 January 2012).