Tonga’s Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva said his government will not support any bill to allow children as young as 15-year-old to get marry.
He said the matter was mentioned in Parliament apparently for the MPs to consider because it was evident Tongan children as young as 15 were pregnant. He said the statistics was significant and there was a problem.
Hon Pōhiva said the government has no proposal to allow child marriage and as far as he understands there was nothing submitted into Parliament on it.
He said he understood those who were behind the idea have taken into consideration the condition in which young girls who fell victims to their perpetrators suffered severe consequences as a result.
But we do not want to encourage it through law, he said.
The Prime Minister said there are other ways of resolving the problem and he believed those at the responsible sectors are working on it.
The legal age of marriage in the kingdom is 18. Children as young as 14 can marry but only with parent’s consent according to the law.
As Kaniva News reported last month the Tongan Deputy Speaker Lord Tuʻiʻāfitu told the House he was shocked at the number of child marriage in Tonga.
Radio New Zealand has quoted Ofa Gutteinbeil Likiliki from Tonga’s Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC) as saying the young victims of rape have been made to marry their rapists under a law that gives parents the power to approve underage marriages.
“We do have cases that we have documented at the centre where the young girl has been forced to marry the perpetrator who raped her,” she said.
“She’s been forced to marry the perpetrator to prevent shame, embarrassment, talk in the village. So the perpetrator will come with the family, make the traditional apology and then it’s accepted by the young girl’s family and then the decision, which is made largely by the family, is to get them married.”