THE minimum age for marriage in Spain has been raised from 14 to 16 as part of government plans to combat child abuse and exploitation.
Social services minister Ana Mato said the government also proposes to revise the age of sexual consent which currently stands at just 13.
The reforms are part of major government plans to combat the abuse of minors, funded with a budget estimated at €5.2 billion over the next four years.
Under the previous law, in certain circumstances a child was allowed to enter into marriage with a court’s permission from the age of 14.
Critics of the legislation argue that this could result in children being forced into the union and open the way for exploitation.
Children’s organisations have welcomed the reforms as a means to prevent child abuse and fight paedophilia more effectively.
In Spain, the minimum ages for marriage and sexual consent were previously among the lowest in the world.
Mato told a news conference: “Although the age to enter into marriage in our country is 18 years, the law does allow in certain circumstances for marriage at 14. We are going to raise that age to 16.”
The minister added that the government will now work with political parties and children’s organisations to increase the age of consent in line with European Union nations.