Armenia may be the next sovereign state to join the growing ranks of countries that are amending their family laws to raise the minimum legal age of marriage to 18. The proposed amendment, approved in July and set for debate in Armenia’s National Assembly this Fall, would bring Armenia into line with international human rights standards on child protection.
But, not everybody in the Yezidi village of Rya Taza has embraced the proposed marriage law reform. Rya Taza village head Ahmad Broyan told ArmeniaNow that there isn’t a single 20-year old girl left in the village, saying “There is a queue for girls, we want to wait until they grow up, but there aren’t any, not even spinsters.” Villager Sona Aslo, a 33-year old mother of four who has just arranged her 14-year-old daughter Ilona’s marriage, agrees with Broyan:
My mother-in-law and I have decided to abide by our tradition, [Ilona] is too young but we gave her [to marriage] anyway. I got married when I was 15, too, so what? We saw it’s a good family, and what could my daughter have said?
Ilona’s uncle Kyaram Davreshyan, 56, objects to his niece’s imminent nuptials, “What were they thinking when they agreed to this marriage? She is too young and will have a hard time. They should have waited at least for a couple of more years to let her mature a little bit.” And the child bride’s 12-year-old sister Ela vows, “I won’t let them wed me so early. I am dreaming of becoming a dancer, I keep telling them that I won’t get married.” ArmeniaNow reporter Gayane Mkrtchyan sees promise in Ela’s declaration, “signs of rebellion that might, one day, spark revolution in this society wed to archaic customs.”
READ MORE: Married to Tradition: Armenia’s Yezidi at odds over government amendment on matrimony, By Gayane Mkrtchyan, Armenia Now (September 7, 2012).