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Palestine Rabbinate Will Not Support Campaign Against Evils of Child Marriage

Although recognizing the evils of child-marriage, the rabbinate of Palestine has declined to become an outspoken supporter of the Jewish Women’s Rights Association in its struggle to obtain legislation making 16 the minimum age at which marriages may be contracted. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency learns that the Palestine government, on the firm intimation from the League of Nations, is now drafting a bill making 14 the minimum age.

The compromise figure is due to the government’s reluctance to introduce legislation that may lead to opposition among the Palestine Moslems similar to that evoked among the Hindus of India over the Sarda act which forbids marriages between children under 14 years of age, a fine of $300 being levied for violations.

Boy and girl marriages are still very popular in the Sephardic Jewish communities of Palestine, which explains the hesitation of the rabbis to join wholeheartedly in the fight on this recognized evil. The child marriage problem in Palestine was raised at the extraordinary session of the Mandates Commission last June by Mlle. Valentine Dannevig, the Norwegian member of the Commission.

Replying to her question of what was the situation in regard to child marriage and whether any legislation on the lines of that recently passed in India and Egypt had been provided or contemplated by the Palestine administration, Harry C. Luke, former chief secretary of Palestine, said there was no problem of the sort that existed in India and he could not say what were the minimum ages of marriage. Mr. Luke took note of Mlle. Dannevig’s remark that she had been informed that not a few Arab girls were married before the age of 14.

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