The Canadian government is proposing to set 16 as the national minimum age of marriage in order to curb “barbaric cultural practices” in the country.
The minimum age for marriage varies by province in Canada and is as low as 7 years old in some cases.
The bill called “The Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act” presented by Chris Alexander, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, targets early forced marriages (including taking children out of Canada for forced marriages), polygamy and honor killing. All such acts will result in deportation if the bill becomes law.
After the bill, judges will have to be signatories to marriages involving those between the ages of 16 and adulthood. So far only parental consent is required.
“We intend on sending a strong message to those in Canada and those who wish to come to Canada that we will not tolerate cultural traditions in Canada that deprive individuals of their human rights,” says Chris Alexander.
“With this bill, we would be standing up for immigrant women who have come to Canada for a better life,” he said, adding it would also “show quite clearly that our Canadian values do not extend to barbaric acts.”
Though there are those already opposing the law, the act is more than welcome in a country where a huge number of the population is that of immigrants.
“Honor-based killings are nothing more than murders,” Mr. Alexander said. “We will be working through this bill to make sure that such killings are considered the murders that we know them to be. There is absolutely no room for ambiguity.”