Malawi President Peter Mutharika has signed into law an amendment that rises legal marriage age to 18 years from 15 years, reports VOA.
“That amendment is showing exactly the aspiration of Malawians that we are saying ‘No’ in totality to child marriage and the loopholes that were remaining of giving consents to parents are no longer there,” said Jessie Kabwila, chairperson of women’s caucus in parliament.
The amendment marks the final step in a years-long process in Malawi to outlaw child marriage.
This comes into effect two years after parliament passed a revised family code that raised the marriage age to 18.
The amended law states any person who enters into a marriage ceremony knowing the marriage is invalid or illegal commits an offense punishable by a fine of $143 and five years’ imprisonment.
Malawi has one of the world’s highest rates of child marriage. According to the government survey released last year, 47 percent of women and girls are married before age 18. The survey said the child marriages have contributed to an increase in deaths of mothers and babies at birth.