Change is possible: Dominican Republic takes a huge step to end child marriage

Did you know that the Dominican Republic has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world?

Over one third of all girls in the country are married before age 18. These girls are often forced to drop out of school, become mothers (even if they are not physically or psychologically ready) and are statistically more likely to face poverty, gender-based violence and even death.

But there is hope. After a successful girls-led nationwide campaign supported by Plan International, the Dominican Republic is closing a loophole in its marriage law that allows girls to be married before the age of 18.

This is a massive step forward in advancing girls’ rights throughout the country!

Girl smiling with her arms in the air

SEE ALSO: How empowered youth ended child marriage in Malawi

A major victory for future generations

Despite the minimum age for marriage in the Dominican Republic being 18 years, children were still being married due to a loophole in the law that specifies that girls can marry at 15 and boys can marry at 16 with parental consent.

However, the country’s parliament voted to change the law on May 30, 2017, and the loophole is expected to be removed imminently – enabling more girls to learn, lead, decide and thrive without the threat of child marriage.

“It is a momentous day for girls’ rights in the Dominican Republic,” says Aracelis De Los Santos, Country Director for Plan International Dominican Republic.

“This decision is a bold step to end child marriage and will help save the lives and futures of hundreds of thousands of girls.”

SEE ALSO: How girls are winning the fight against child marriage in Guatemala

Our work is not over yet

When it comes to ending child marriage in the Dominican Republic, changing the law is the first major step towards positive change.

“Our next steps as an organization will be to ensure that child marriage is included in the penal code and to continue with our public awareness campaign to strengthen child protection networks and help people understand that child marriage is a crime.”

“Most importantly, however, we will continue working with girls themselves to help them realise their true worth and to understand that they have the potential to achieve great things.”

group of schoolgirls smiling

SEE ALSO: How Plan International is working to end child marriage around the world

You can also make change possible

We are incredibly proud to have played a part in creating momentous change for girls in the Dominican Republic – but none of it would be possible without the support of our generous donors!

If you believe that girls in developing countries should be able to exercise their rights to be educated, healthy and counted, then join us as we work to create a brighter future for children, families and entire communities!

Sponsor a girl and help prevent child marriage!