Although underage marriage has been banned in Mexico since 2019 at the federal level, there are still cases at the state level where girls and teenagers marry. For specialists and researchers, this phenomenon is related to the possible commission of other crimes, such as the rape of minors.
According to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi), in 2021 there were 42 marriages of adolescents under the age of 17, an increase of 75%, compared to 2020, when the number of cases, in the same age group, it was the 23rd.
The 2021 Marriage Report announced that six 15-year-olds; nine 16-year-olds and 27 17-year-olds are the ones who got married in Mexico this year.
Cases in a state
By subjects, two cases were registered in Aguascalientes; one in Baja California; one in Coahuila; eight in Chihuahua; seven in Durango; two in Guanajuato; one in Jalisco; three in Michoacan; two in Nayarit; two in Nuevo Leon; four in Puebla; two in San Luis Potosí; four in Sonora and one in Tamaulipas.
The remaining minor women are married abroad.
According to the 2020 Census of Population and Housing, by that year there were 224,454 adolescents aged 12 to 17 living in a marital union (married or cohabiting).
While 21,167 were not in a union but had a history of a marital union (separated, divorced or widowed).
“This shows that four out of every 100 adolescents in the country are or have been in a married union,” Inegi said in a statement released to mark the International Day of the Girl Child, which is being celebrated this October 11.
Factors and risks
Liliana Lomeli, co-executive director of the Women’s and Men’s Network for Public Opinion with a Gender Perspective, as well as Argentina Casanova, an expert on girls’ and women’s rights, agreed that it was found that cases of girl and adolescent marriage were related to sexual violence.
Experts have pointed out that in many cases, violations of girls and boys caused within the framework of marriage are classified as statutory rape, a crime that usually carries lighter penalties because it is not considered serious in many countries.
Lomeli added that sexual exploitation and kidnapping are crimes that also surround the girls’ marriage.
Customs and traditions
Lomeli pointed out that customs and traditions are another factor that influences the fact and that religious and even state authorities support the continuity of this type of marriage in many cases.
“We need to be more precise and more demanding about the training of public servants for those who directly deal with this problem,” he said.
Argentina Casanova mentioned that there are families who give their daughters in marriage because they “save” expenses or because of a transaction of convenience, such as barter.
On the other hand, for the researcher from the Center for Demographic, Urban and Environmental Studies of the College of Mexico, Julieta Pérez Amador, other factors related to the appearance of marriages in the aforementioned category is the educational level, since women with up to primary and secondary school have a much higher risk of registering this type of union than those with a high school or university degree.
He added that in his research he found that daughters of mothers who joined as minors were more likely to repeat the act.
Karine Tinat, a researcher at El Colegio de México, argues that usages and customs that contradict the rights of girls and adolescents must be discussed.
He explained that education is one of the ways in which this practice can be eradicated, but said that it is also necessary for the authorities to legislate public policies on this issue.
For her part, Argentina Casanova pointed out that the marriage of girls and adolescents should be put on the public agenda, as it is a patriarchal practice that the state has the duty to eliminate “through education”.
They see minors who do not respect their rights
Inegi indicated that 25.7% of girls between the ages of nine and 11 and 32.2% of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 felt that their rights were little or not respected in Mexico.
According to the 2017 National Discrimination Survey, the main place where minors between the ages of 12 and 17 were discriminated against was their work or school (53.3%).
In turn, based on the 2019 National Child Labor Survey, it was estimated that there are 1.3 million girls and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 17 who are working. (Preparation)