Knesset raises marriage age

This week, the Knesset approved in a preliminary vote a new law raising the minimum marriage age from 17 to 18, despite the opposition of the strictly Orthodox community.

An estimated 4,500 minors get married every year in Israel, 90 per cent of them teenage girls. Most of those are in the Israeli-Arab and strictly Orthodox communities.

Social services and feminist organisations have been trying to convince the government to raise the age for a decade, claiming that, in many cases, the newlyweds are too young to start family life.

Various proposals have run into opposition, mainly from the Charedi parties, whose rabbis encourage early marriages.

The children of the leaders of Chasidic dynasties are traditionally betrothed and married off at a young age.

Last updated: 1:32pm, March 8 2012