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While the marrying age in Spain is 18, currently Spanish law allows for two exceptions: a 16-year-old wanting to marry can do so with parental permission, while 14-year-olds are allowed to marry with permission from a judge.
Under the new legislation, 14- and 15-year-olds will no longer be able to marry, while 16-year-olds will now require permission from a judge or parental consent to marry.
The reforms come after years of lobbying by children’s rights groups, said Gabriel González-Bueno of Unicef in Spain. “There’s a risk that these young children are being forced into marriages or being married off as a consequence of an agreement in which they had little say,” he said.
Reforms to the age of sexual consent became a national debate in 2012, after the death of a 13-year-old girl at the hand of her 39-year-old lover in the small village of El Salobral near Albacete. The girl’s parents had alerted the authorities to the relationship, but police said they couldn not intervene as the relationship was legal and consensual.