Tunisian 13-year-old marries man who made her pregnant by court ruling

Tunisia is viewed as being ahead of most Arab countries on women’s rights. A bill to counter violence against women, proposed in 2014, is still waiting to be discussed in parliament ©FETHI BELAID (AFP/File)

A Tunisian court Tuesday has approved the marriage of a 13-year-old girl to a 20-year-old relative who made her pregnant, a move that caused an uproar among organizations concerned with children’s rights in the country.

The marriage between the girl, from the northwestern region of Kef, and the brother of her brother-in-law took place in the presence of their parents, despite attempts to stop it.

The judge was relying on an article in the Tunisian Criminal Code which stipulates that while sex with a girl under 15 without the use of force is punishable by six years in prison, the culprit can halt proceedings by marrying the victim.

“In that particular case, the judge was simply abiding the law, which is definitely an antiquated law,” a fellow court judge, who did not want to be named because they are not authorized to speak with media, told CNN.

“Tunisia was one of the first countries in the region to ratify international treaties that guarantee the rights of children. However this law was never amended. It’s up to the judge to decide whether to apply it or not,” the judge said.

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