- Law 5257 is a punitive and discriminatory initiative that increases the risk of child, early and forced marriages and unions (CEFMU) in Guatemala, where 30% of women marry or enter unions before the age of 18.
- The Guatemalan Congress must reverse the passing of the Law, as it contradicts international human rights instruments ratified by the country.
Girls, adolescents and women in Guatemala and the region need a legislative framework that – rather than criminalising us – contributes to guaranteeing our rights.Alma Burciaga González - Head of Latin America and Caribbean Engagement, Girls Not Brides
On 8 March 2022, International Women’s Day, the Guatemalan Congress passed the so-called “Law for the protection of life and family” (Law 5257), a highly punitive and discriminatory initiative that contradicts international human rights agreements and increases the risk of child, early and forced marriage and unions (CEFMU).
This law lacks a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive rights, as it includes modifications to the Penal Code that criminalise women who wish to terminate their pregnancies, those who have a spontaneous or involuntary miscarriage, and those who support them. It prohibits access to comprehensive sexuality education for children and adolescents through public and private educational facilities. It promotes education based on moral and religious convictions and omits the obligation of the State to provide information or take actions to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
This law increases the risk of CEFMU in a country where 30% of women marry or enter into unions before the age of 18. In Guatemala, as in other countries in the region, CEFMU is related – among other factors – to adolescent pregnancy and lack of access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, including contraception and safe abortion. CEFMU in turn increases the risk of adolescent girls dropping out of school, acquiring sexually transmitted infections and experiencing intimate partner violence.
It is also a highly discriminatory initiative, which explicitly prohibits same-sex unions by establishing that marriage will only be recognised when carried out between a woman and a man “by birth”. It limits the right to family by denying the existence of diverse families and establishing that children can only live in families made up of a mother and a father. It also states that positions or commitments expressed or acquired by civil servants in contravention of this law shall be null and void, and that they may face sanctions.
Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage stands in solidarity with our member organisations and allies in Guatemala, and joins the call #NoALaLey5272 (#NoToLaw5272) for the Guatemalan Congress to reject and shelve this initiative.
We call on the Guatemalan Congress and President Alejandro Giammattei to stop the publication of initiatives that violate the rights of women and diverse people, because as our representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, Alma Burciaga González, says: "girls, adolescents and women in Guatemala and across the region need a regulatory framework that – instead of criminalising us – contributes to guaranteeing our rights."
- Brief on Child, early and forced marriage and unions in Latin America and the Caribbean
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Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of over 1,600 civil society organisations in more than 100 countries committed to ending child marriage and ensuring girls and adolescents can reach their full potential.
In the time it has taken to read this article 33 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
That is 23 girls every minute
Nearly 1 every 2 seconds