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Finnish justice ministry plans outright ban on underage marriages

While 18 is the minimum age to get married in Finland, the justice ministry has granted a handful of exceptions for 17-year-olds, usually on religious grounds.

Ring träds på finger i samband med vigsel.
File photo.

Finland's Justice Minister Antti Häkkinen announced on Thursday that he will push forward to lawmakers as soon as possible a law proposal to outright ban marriages of people under the age of 18.

Häkkinen, who called for the ban on underage marriages last summer, said the motivation behind initiative is the protection of children's welfare.

"It is in the child's best interest that [he or she] can be married when they are adults and doing it of their own free will," Häkkinen said, adding that the underage marriage ban would also send a signal to other countries.

Currently, a person needs to be at least 18 years of age in order to get married in Finland but it is possible for 17-year-olds to apply for special permission from the Ministry of Justice to enter matrimony early.

In recent years the ministry has received between 10-30 applications per year from underage individuals who wish to get married. Seven of those applicants received permission to wed, the ministry said, saying that the exemption requests are often based on religious beliefs.

The ministry said that the majority of the 17-year old applicants are girls.

The Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway and Denmark have all banned underage marriages in recent years.

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