Matale District SLPP MP Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon today handed over the first private member Bill in 9th Parliament to Parliament Secretary General Dhammika Dassanayake to set the minimum age of marriage of Sri Lankan Children at 18.
In the Bill titled 'Minimum Age of Marriage', MP Tennakoon said the Bill’s intention is to ensure that the State fulfils its national and international obligations to protect the rights of every child in the country.
“Children must be treated as children and this Bill's intention is not to marginalise anyone,” he said.
He further said Sri Lanka is a party to the Convention for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) under which Sri Lanka has the obligation to introduce a standard minimum age of 18 without exception for all children regardless of religion and personal statute laws.
"A standard age will guarantee and protect the rights of all Sri Lankan children," he said and gave special acknowledgement to former MP Dr. Thusitha Wijemanna who took steps to formulate policies in this regard in the 8th parliament.
According to the proposed Minimum Age of Marriage Bill, “No marriage contracted after coming into force of the Act shall be valid unless both parties to the marriage have reached 18 years of age.”
“Every child marriage, whether solemnised before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be voidable at the option of the contracting party who was a child at the time of the marriage. Once an application to annul a child marriage is filed, and if the Court is satisfied with the application, the court shall grant a decree of nullity of such marriage," the Bill says.