Tirana, 10 March 2017
Observatory in partnership with Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), realized the meeting for presenting the Report on the legal, judicial practice and social aspects of underage marriages in Korca and Pogradec for the period 2011 – 2016.
Observatory with the support of CFLI has implemented the initiative “Prevention of early marriages in strengthening the legal mechanisms and social perceptions, as a tool to empower women and girls (PREVENTION)”. The project is implemented by the Observatory through “monitoring decisions of District Courts of Korca and Pogradec for the period 2011 – 2016″ followed with the social analyze of these cases.
Aiming the improvement of the court decisions with the respect of highest interest of the child, the open meeting has collected the representatives of international and national institutions, various ministries and the central and local subordinate institutions together with NGOs operating in the field of children’s rights.
Some of the legal and judicial practice recommendations of the report are:
- For the Court, keeping the interest of the minor in mind should be the main consideration and this special care needs to be reflected in the content of the decision as clearly as possible through the specific analysis according to the case.
- Only the minor seeking to enter into underage marriage is the one that is actively legitimated to make the request.
- A very important principle that should be kept in control by the Court is the autonomy of the will of the minor requesting permit to enter into underage marriage. In order to evaluate this will, the minor should be personally present throughout the entire process. The Court should guarantee the right of the minor to be heard and informed. The Court should keep in mind that the younger the age of the person the easier it is to manipulate the minor to enter into marriage without free consent.
- Taking the opinion of the psychologist on the psychological evaluation, free consent and social situation is a legal obligation and a great help for the Court, so that it can rule a fair decision and to judge on the importance of the causes and their merits, as well as the physical and psychological maturity of the person through the verification of the psychologist.
- The Court should keep in mind that the juvenile girls in difficult economic situation are more exposed to the risk of fictitious marriages or the promises of marriage that end up to exploitation for prostitution, trafficking or any other kind of exploitation.
- As pertaining to the legislation, there is still room for improvements regarding the active legitimating of the minor girl and the determination of a minimum age below which underage marriage cannot be allowed for any reason. Furthermore, many of the suggestions include in this document may be also accompanied by legal improvements. The approach and harmonization with the international standards quoted in this report is still important.
The problems and issues that accompany underage marriages require an in-depth analysis of this situation throughout the entire country.
An adequate and productive intervention in this direction is related to the unification of the interventions and the efforts to improve the situation of women married under age by bringing together the policymakers, the state bodies involved in the enforcement of the law related to marriage, civil society organizations, donors, schools and the communities where these women live.
Let us give a voice to these girls and let them have a healthy and dignified childhood!