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Bill raising marriage age of females passed by the Fono

Rendering of proposed new Fono Building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Senate last Thursday unanimously approved in final reading a House bill, which raises the marriage age for females from 14-years old to 18 years of age — which is the current marriage age of males, under the law.

Senators had rejected an identical House bill in March this year. The vote at the time was 7 ayes and 9 nays.

Before approving the current House bill, the Senate deleted a provision of the bill, which states that if the female or male is less than 18 years old, “but not younger than 16 years of age”, she/ he must have the consent of one of her/his parents or guardians.

Senators believe this provision defeats the whole purpose of the bill, setting the marrying age at 18 for both male and female.

During last Friday’s House session, faipule endorsed the Senate amendment and the bill in now being enrolled in Fono records before it is send to the governor for review and consideration.

It’s unclear as to the governor’s action on this measure, which has garnered a lot of public support especially among many mothers and advocates against child abuse.