The parliament of Chad has adopted a reform of its penal code which raises the legal marriage age from 16 to 18 and abrogates the death penalty.
111 MPs voted for the the new penal code while one MP voted against it and four abstained.
The new code that repeals the 1967 Code abrogates the death penalty except in cases of terrorism as the country faces attacks by Boko Haram around its borders.
“Twenty-eight per cent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 were married before the age of 15, and 69 per cent of women between the ages of 20 and 49 were married before the age of 18,” said the Chadian Minister of Women, Ngarmbatina Carmel Sou IV in August.
“This penal code is modern, it takes account of our customs and also our international commitments,” Minister of Justice Hamid Dahalob said.
In 2015, Chadian President Idriss Deby promulgated a law that punishes any person party to the marriage of a minor by 5 to 10 years prison sentence and a fine of 500,000 to 5 million FCFA (750 to 7,500 euros).
He pledged to ban the marriage of minors by 2020, with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The new penal code, however, punishes homosexuality which is no longer considered a crime but punishable by a fine or suspended prison sentence.