Israel raises marriage age to 18

The Knesset has voted to raise the legal age of marriage (Photo: Joshua Paquin)

The Knesset has voted to raise the legal age of marriage (Photo: Joshua Paquin)

The Israeli government has raised the legal marriage age from 17 to 18, following a fierce debate that split the Knesset and infuriated strictly Orthodox members of parliament.

The bill, which was introduced by MKs across various parties, was passed with 55 in favour and 11 opposed. It is intended to target strictly Orthodox sectors of society.

But in the debate held yesterday, Charedi MKs voiced their anger, arguing the new law would violate the rights of religious teenagers.

MK Yisrael Eichler of the United Torah Judaism party said: “This Knesset, which presumes to be open and innovative, will outlaw two youngsters to marry at 17.

“Is this open-mindedness? In a world where almost everything is allowed, you can’t raise a house and family?”

But one of the bill’s initiators, Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On, said: “Do you really think that a 17-year-old minor knows what she wants at that age? In what country are we living?

"The new law will lead to women marrying of their own will and with full understanding of the consequences of marriage."

Violation of this new law will lead to a prison sentence of up to two years.

Last updated: 9:27am, November 5 2013