Tunisian court allows marriage of pregnant 13-year-old

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A Tunisian court has approved the marriage of a 13-year-old girl to a relative who made her pregnant.

The judgement triggered anger from non-governmental organizations which said the girl had been raped. The girl, from the northwestern region of Kef, had a sexual relationship with the brother of her brother-in-law.

Under Tunisian law, sex with a girl under 15 without the use of force is punishable by six years in prison, but the culprit can halt proceedings by marrying the victim. “The two families demanded marriage to avoid a scandal,” Mejri said.

A wedding party had been planned for Sunday but was cancelled after the government’s child protection office called for the marriage to be annulled.

“When it’s a 13-year-old child, we can’t talk of a sexual relation with consent. It’s a rape,” the agency’s representative Houda Abboudi said.

The Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD) rights group said the decision was “scandalous”.

“Judges think that at the age of 13… she can give consent,” said ATFD head Monia Ben Jemia.

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