11 Jul 2018

American Samoa minimum age marriage bill is back

1:59 pm on 11 July 2018

American Samoan Representative, Fialupe Fiaui Lutu, has re-introduced her bill aiming to increase the minimum marriage age for girls from 14 to 18.

The reintroduction of the bill has been welcomed by woman's advocacy group, Pae ma Auli, which conducted a survey to gauge community awareness on the marriage age.

97 percent of people were opposed to having a marriage age of 14.

In the last Fono session, the House approved the bill to increase the marriage age for girls to 18, but the Senate turned it down with one reason being that if young teenagers become pregnant families can marry them off.

An advocate with Pae ma Auli, Ipu Lefiti, said this argument frightens her.

"This is very common. Fathers are impregnating their daughters, uncles are impregnating their nieces, so are you going to force this 14 year-old girl to marry her sister's husband?. I mean how are you going to balance this out. It frightens me," she said.