Russian Pensioners Party asks parliament to raise legal marriage age

© Aleksander Grebeshkov
The head of Russia’s Party of Pensioners has proposed that the minimum legal age of marriage be raised to 16 years, saying that marrying 14-year-olds, currently allowed in some regions, is immoral and could be used to corrupt the young.

Many representatives of the public, including the Party of Pensioners members from various regions of Russia, believe that this approach to the early marriages issue [setting the minimum legal age of marriage at 14] is in reality an attempt to legalize the early start of sex life for persons under 16 and the intention to camouflage this conflict with the bounds of lawful marriage,” Evgeny Artyukh wrote to Upper House Chair Valentina Matviyenko.

He added that early marriage allowed corruptors and rapists to be covered up “instead of guaranteeing the sexual immunity of the under-aged.”

Another reason offered by the Party of Pensioners’ leader was the argument that family members must provide means of existence for themselves and their children, which is hardly possible in cases when they are as young as 14.

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The politician then proposed to abolish the article of the Russian Family Code that allows regional authorities to set the minimum legal marriage age under the universally-allowed limit.

The official marriageable age in Russia is 18 years, but people as young as 16 can marry under special circumstances (which usually, but not exclusively, means pregnancy or childbirth). Seventeen subjects of the Russian Federation, including the Moscow Region, used the amendment and set the marriageable age at 14 years.

A similar bill is currently under consideration of the legislature of the central Russian Republic of Bashkortostan and Artykhov wrote in this letter that the spreading of the practice of early marriages caused him to raise the issue in the Federation Council.

Artykhov also noted in his letter that he was not against allowing 16-year-olds to marry if they have valid reasons for this, such as pregnancy.

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Member of the Russian Public Chamber Georgy Fyodorov told RIA Novosti that this group supports Artyukhov’s initiative.

This is a reasonable proposal and I think it is worth discussing so that relatives’ preferences or national traditions do not affect human life and young girls’ choices,” he said.

At the same time the head of the State Duma Committee for Public Health, MP Sergey Furgal (LDPR), dismissed the suggested motion as demagogy and a part of the approaching election campaign.

If the Russian Party of Pensioners really wants to do something useful there are a whole lot of problems and questions that need to be resolved. The reason they make some empty statements is that they want people to start talking about them, nothing beyond this,” RIA Novosti quoted Furgal as saying.