Care Micronesia Foundation assists Pohnpei State to raise the age of consent to 18

Care Micronesia Foundation

Each country across the planet has a different outlook on life.  One thing we have in common is that we want the best for our children.  One way that communities help their children have a better life is to protect their childhood and prevent them from getting married until they are old enough to start a family of their own.  This is called the age of consent and marriageable age, when two young people can have sexual relations and decide to legally get married.  In Pohnpei, this age was set at 16, but through lobbying from the churches, from Public Health, women’s groups and the Care Micronesia Foundation the Pohnpei State Legislature has recently created legislation raising it to 18 years of age.  This legislation was passed by the legislature and provided to the Governor.  It became law without signature after 30 days after its passage.

The reasons for lobbying for this change are numerous.   There are health concerns for all teenagers engaged in sexual relations at a young age. Once girls become teenage mothers, they are at more risk to health issues that their young bodies are not ready for.  Also, research shows that girls that marry at too young an age are at a higher risk of experiencing domestic violence. Once they marry they are also required to drop out from school and this hinders them from reaching their goals in life around education and earning a living. 

The Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) provided support to the Care Micronesia Foundation’s campaign under the Pacific People Advancing Change project, funded by the Government of Sweden. Training on campaigning, mentoring and a small grant from SPC RRRT helped the Care Micronesia Foundation to run the campaign, including a roundtable discussion attended by representatives of the Pohnpei State Public Health and the Chairman of the Committee on Health from the Pohnpei State Legislature, Hon. Shelten Neth, as well as church leaders, traditional leaders, and women’s groups. 

Now, with the passing of the new law on age of consent, the Care Micronesia Foundation will continue to work with SPC RRRT and increase public awareness about the new law and what it means for parents, young people and traditional leaders.

The Care Micronesia Foundation would like to thank everyone who showed support for the new law, including state leadership, and we look forward to working with the Pohnpei State Government, church and traditional leaders to help inform the public and improve the lives of our young people.

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