The Mexican Senate approved a project to criminalize forced marriage of minors (child marriage), a crime that will carry a penalty of up to 18 years in prison and a fine, which could increase if the victim is a member of an indigenous community or Afro-Mexican community.
Unanimously, with 90 votes in favor, the Plenary Session of the Mexican Senate approved a draft decree that reforms the Federal Penal Code, in order to establish “an autonomous criminal offense that punishes those who force minors to live with another person in constant and comparable to marriage”.
In March 2019, the Mexican Senate approved a ban on child marriages throughout the country, in addition to various provisions of the Civil Code to establish 18 as the minimum age for marriage.
The opinion, approved this day, specifies that “commits the crime of forced cohabitation of minors under 18 years of age” or of people who do not have the capacity to understand the meaning of the fact, “whoever forces, coerces, induces, requests, manages or offers one or more of these people to join informally or customarily, with or without their consent, with someone of the same condition or with a person over 18 years of age, in order to live together constantly and comparable to that of a married couple. “
In addition, it provides that this crime “is imprescriptible and that the person responsible is imposed a sentence of eight to 15 years in prison and a fine of one thousand to two thousand 500 days.
According to the document, the sentence provided will increase by up to one-half, at its minimum and at its maximum, if the victim belongs to an indigenous or Afro-Mexican people or community.
When presenting the opinion, the president of the Justice Commission, Olga Sánchez Cordero, assured that the forced marriage of minors “attempts against the best interests of children and represents an impairment of fundamental rights to the detriment of their development and integral formation.”
In addition, he stressed that minors from the poorest homes, from rural areas, and belonging to indigenous and Afro-descendant groups are at greater risk of being victims of forced marriage.
According to data from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), they point out that in Latin America “one in four women between the ages of 20 and 24 married for the first time or had an early union before turning 18.”
The draft decree, by which article 205-Bis is reformed and Chapter IX is added to Title Eight of the Federal Penal Code, was sent to the Federal Executive for its constitutional effects.
According to the World Population Status 2020 report prepared by the UN and presented in July 2020 in Mexico, child marriage and early unions affect 4.45 percent of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 annually in Mexico.