Malawi raises the age of marriage to 18

The age of marriage in Malawi which activists say has one of highest rates of underage marriages in the world has been brought up from 16 to 18.

It is now against the law for anyone to marry a girl who is under the age of 18 according to  a new law that has been approved by president Peter  Mutharika.

The new law carries a 10-year prison sentence for anyone who marries under the age of 18.

Human rights activists pushed for the law saying many young girls are trapped in underage marriages and creates a cycle of poverty and dependence.

The law was passed by parliament two months ago despite traditionalists opposing it and it only now that it has been approved by the president.

The law covers a wide range of issues including giving a widow a share of her husbands property.

The law also states that if an underage couple have a child, the boy’s family will be financially responsible for the baby until the couple are able to support themselves and the child.

Malawi reportedly ranks eighth in the world in terms of child marriages, with some girls as young as nine being married off because their parents are too poor to care for them or pay for their education.

A majority of these girls do not finish their education and remain trapped in poverty.

In 2001, Malawi instituted a special legal commission to review legislation related to marriage and divorce.

It took the commission years t