SPANIARDS younger than 16 will no longer be permitted to wed, under the newly approved Voluntary Jurisdiction Act.
In the past, Spain has allowed 14- and 15-year-olds to marry with permission from a judge, while 16- and 17-year-olds have been able to marry with parental consent.
With the new law, 16- and 17-year-olds can still marry with permission from a parent or judge. Over the age of 18, anyone can marry.
The change comes after years of pressure from children’s rights groups including the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The new legislation also officially raises Spain’s legal age of consent from 13 — the lowest in the European Union — to 16.
Supporters of the changes expect that higher minimum ages of marriage and consent will help prevent the exploitation of minors — particularly girls — by adults.