Cuba’s New Family Code Eliminates Child Marriage

Other new element of the Code addresses “assisted reproduction.” (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 19 November 2021 — The draft of the new Cuban Family Code, in its 23rd version, has eliminated the exception that authorized the marriage of adolescents between 16 and 18 years of age. “We celebrate the end of Child Marriage in Cuba, an achievement of independent feminist activism,” claims the platform #YoSíTeCreo (I Do Believe in You) Cuba.

In statements to official media, the vice president of the National Union of Cuban Jurists (UJNC), Yamila González Ferrer, noted that the Code in force since 1975 allows the marriage of girls at 14 and boys at 16 with the exceptional authorization of their parents. Under this law, more than 320 girls under the age of 15 were married in Cuba between 2018 and 2019.

González Ferrer specified that “girls between 14 and 18 years old marry men who are twice or triple their age and, from there, leave school, become pregnant, become economically dependent. As they are not educated and have limited possibilities to improve technically or professionally, they also have less possibilities of accessing employment.”

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) considers child marriage a violation of human rights. For this reason, the possibility of marriage through the exception contemplated by current legislation contrasts with the ratification by the Cuban State of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Another new element in the proposed Code addresses “assisted reproduction,” which opens the door to surrogate wombs, although the official press does not refer to it by this name. In this regard, González Ferrer explained that the regulation of “solidarity gestation” is still being outlined to avoid “the exploitation or use of women’s bodies and against the trafficking of children.”

The so-called surrogacy, which consists of implanting a fertilized egg in a “surrogate” woman, who has no biological relationship with the future child, is a very controversial option, allowed in very few countries. It is only regulated in Canada, some states of the USA, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Greece, the United Kingdom, Australia and India, and is subject to many conditions.

In the case of this version of the Cuban Family Code, the authorities assure that they will protect “that future pregnant woman from the psychological effects that may arise from carrying a child that is not hers,” as González Ferrer pointed out.

“To give just one example, the ovum that is going to be fertilized will never belong to that pregnant woman, unless she is going to be part of a multi-parental project,” she declared in Cubadebate.

The official media notes that the regulation of solidarity gestation “requires specific legal norms that go beyond the family sphere,” specifically gynecological and obstetric issues (which they do not mention here either). That is why, as they say, they are working on “special binding rules and protocols” with the Ministry of Health.

This new version also mentions “post mortem artificial insemination,” an option that allows a widow to be inseminated by her “spouse or partner” for a period of up to one year after death.


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