Family Code prohibits teenage marriage

She glances sideways at the gate that will open at any moment. She goes over her mascara with exaggeration and accentuates her eyebrow pencil as if black were becoming infinite. Then she rests her head on the couch and reloads the Facebook page on her new cell phone. In there, she recognizes the guys from her classroom, in the Pre-university, and just thinks about what they would say if they saw her now.

Yoenia wakes up early because back in her hometown, La Guinea, the dogs make a deafening noise in the mornings and no one can stay in bed. Her mother goes to bed before dawn, sneaks in her coffee, and her father goes out to see what he can sell on the road, although most of the time he comes back with the chives, bananas, and guanábanas. That is why the day "El Pelao" asked her to marry him she said yes and then got scared.

He is indeed almost 40 years old and she has not yet turned 15, but her mother advised her to grab the four rags and get lost in the guardarraya if she did not want to get old, like her, among the mud, mosquitoes, and boiled pumpkin for breakfast. To dress up pretty every day, to clean the house, not to listen to gossip, and not to get pregnant, were the lessons she was given as a farewell kiss on the forehead.

Now Yoenia has painted her hair blonde, she wears keratin, and she has very long acrylic nails, but nobody sees her. Her husband is very jealous. He doesn't want her to study, work, upload photos to social networks, make comments, or even exchange chat messages. Every day he checks her cell phone. He invariably goes out to do business and crosses the white fence when the sun goes down.

A few days ago the teenager lost her appetite and woke up in the middle of the night in a panic. She can't tell her husband, because the day she made a similar insinuation he threatened to return her to her family, "to give her to the first one who passed by." Pelao doesn't like it when she talks, he says that women are like chickens, you have to keep them with their wings very short. Yoenia has begun to miss the mosquitoes.


When the Family Code intentionally made it illegal to marry before the age of majority, it was not only focused on the numbers (which are quite high) but on stories like Yoenia's and others that 26 has tracked down. The current legislation is only the first step to delving into a phenomenon that has very old roots and is anchored in archaic precepts that must be unlearned.

Lawyer Aileen Jodar Rodríguez, a specialist at Bufete Colectivo Las Tunas, speaks with vehemence about a topic that seems timely to her, not only because she is a woman, but also because it sheds new light on a panorama that many did not want to recognize in chiaroscuro.

"The institution of marriage with the updating of the Code had changed. The first, one of the most important, is that it will no longer be the consensual union between a man and a woman, but it can be defined as a voluntary union agreed upon between two people with a legal attitude for them, that is, we are opening a little more the diapason", points out the lawyer.

"Another of the main modifications is that it can only be entered into between people over 18 years of age. The old legislation allowed minors to do so with their parent's permission. Currently, this possibility has been eliminated, that is to say, it is not even viable with the permission of the parents, nor assuming a process before the Court.

"In these cases, an affective union is not authorized either, which is the one in which the marriage is demonstrated through the seniority and the goods acquired within the union, since it is indispensable to comply with the same requirements as if they were to be legally married and when they are not of legal age at the time of filing the lawsuit, this does not proceed".


Dianelis is 16 years old and studies Civil Construction at Panchito Gómez Toro Industrial Polithecnics Institute, she is also the mother of a 7-month-old baby. She and her husband Eduard, 24, came to the law firm to seek help.

We started our relationship when she was 13 years old," Eduard explains. I need proof that we are legally married because we have a child and we want to formalize our relationship.

"We came here looking for a common-law relationship. We had not married, because I was working outside the province, and we tried before the Code was approved, but this moment came; now we don't know what to do. We are Christians and we live in concubinage. In the church, if you are not formally married by law we are not joined in marriage."

Dianelis and Eduard, in their specificity, seek counseling, but Jodar Rodriguez reiterates: "In our society, there are people who practice some religion, and consider that to maintain a sexual life they must marry before God and before the law. Many are minors; but the legislation is clear, it will only produce legal effects when it is formalized before a competent official and the age of majority is essential.

Aliubis Fernández González, director of the Collective Law Firm complements that one of the questions that circulate in the streets, after the approval of this new law and the enforcement of the new Penal Code, is if those who have relations with minors are subject to criminal law.

Aliubis Fernández González, director of the Collective Law Firm.

It should be noted that when it comes to family proceedings, criminal law is the last resort," emphasizes the directive. This means that there are unquestionably certain prohibitions that in other civil, criminal, commercial, or administrative regulations may give way to the constitution of a crime.

"Our Penal Code includes crimes such as sexual assault, corruption of minors, and statutory rape. In these modalities, the universe of minors under 18 years of age is prioritized. In the case of sexual assault, it refers to a person who has sexual relations with a minor with the use of violence, deceit, intimidation, and other grounds established by the law.

"This means that if a person starts a relationship with a minor under 18 with his consent and that of his parents, he is not subject to a crime, but his union is not legally valid. In this particular, sexual relations with that underage partner using some type of coercion or violence would constitute a crime.

"In the case of minors under 12 years of age, the law establishes that anyone who engages in sexual relations is subject to the crime, regardless of whether the minor or the parents are willing to do so. The crime of sexual aggression with penalties of 15 to 30 years is incurred by anyone who has carnal intercourse, even if there is no intimidation, violence, or use of force.


Inesita moved in with Yoandri last year. He has a big house in Matanzas and took her with her parent's permission. They asked for a leave of absence from high school, but the file was shelved, because he does not want her to study. He was conclusive: "You are crazy if you think you are going to be in the flirt."

Yoandri had three children with his previous wife, who was also from the countryside. She betrayed him with the bricklayer they hired to repair the house, so now "he doesn't believe in road stories". He's a rabid dog. He picks out her clothes, tells her what to do, and, above all, when to talk.

Recently Inesita's mother found out from a distant cousin of Yoandri's that he beats her daughter when she gets drunk and last week he locked her in a padlock, with nothing to cook, for a couple of days, according to him "so she wouldn't act crazy."

Psychologist and Master of Science Aida Teresa Torralbas FernándezPsychologist and Master of Science Aida Teresa Torralbas Fernández, member of the Women's Chair at the University of Holguín, alleges that many teenagers choose marriage as a way of escape, of migration to improve their lifestyle and leave behind situations of poverty, alcoholic parents, mud, mosquitoes, and other constraints.

She emphasizes that some mistakenly believe that they achieve independence by tying themselves to a marriage that will end up tying them to routines that are too big for their young age. Hence the relevance of the fact that the Family Code has raised the age of marriage to 18, a matter that in practice will require much more time to modify their behavior.

"There are patterns that cannot be ignored. In the relationship of an adolescent girl with an older man, a pairing that is often repeated, asymmetries can lay the foundations for not only physical but also psychological violence," emphasizes Torralbas Fernández.

"If he has already lived, even if he carries resentments from other relationships, he will take advantage of the marriage and make them feel it, because he has more emotional resources. Even if his intentions are noble, the relationship is violating the adolescent's stage of life, forcing her to undergo biological and social changes for which she is not prepared."

The specialist assures that she has verified in consultations that not a few girls allude that they have had sexual relations because they have been pressured, which is a form of violence; they also become pregnant because their husband does not like the use of condoms, an event that may or may not end in pregnancy, but it is sexual violence.

Aida Torralbas calls on the family to make this phenomenon visible with the real consequences it has on adolescents, some of whom are almost children. She also warns that early marriage is a cradle of violence, so it is necessary to eliminate it while promoting learning in the youngest girls so that they can acquire the tools to face the pressure.


Yailín Meriño Millán, head of the Calixto Sarduy Urban High School, shares with this media her concern not only about teenage marriages but also about the causes and consequences that put girls so soon in front of the stove.

"In the last five years, we have noticed a notable increase in pregnancies (every year we have at least one), consensual unions and fashionable courtships in these times, in which students sleep every night at their partners' homes and this interferes with the teaching process."

"We are concerned and alarmed by this phenomenon, as it leads to late arrivals, repeated absences from school and not to mention extracurricular activities on weekends; many simply do not attend because they are not given permission. Another alarming issue is that there are academically good students who, when they get married, lose their motivation to study, and there is no way to make them understand the importance of a profession."

"Here, at the secondary school, we work with the psycho-pedagogue and the teacher guides, so that these situations do not go unnoticed, and observation is a very effective method. Let me tell you that among the things that scare us the most is the number of girls, even in the seventh grade, having their pregnancies terminated."

"In those cases, we summon the parents and we don't always get the response we expected. We are still lacking strength in the school-family binomial. In conversations with married adolescents, the answers that emerge are very harsh, such as: "he helps me and buys me what my parents cannot", "he has a very good house", "I don't want to live with my family" and one told us "I have already left my mother."

"When we go deeper into the causes, it almost always coincides with the origin of dysfunctional homes, with unemployed members, low income, alcoholism, and so on. As an institution, we give priority to this issue because it is a growing phenomenon. In this same course, we received two cases of married students in the seventh grade, in the pedagogical delivery."

The director emphasizes that the school holds talks and discussions, promotes activities with health promoters of the same age, and encourages the reproduction of films and videos that visualize adolescence, with its changes, its scope, and also the cognitive and affective demands. But she confesses that it is at home where these vital lessons must first germinate.


Doctor of Science Matilde Molina Cintra, full professor and deputy director of the Center for Demographic Studies at the University of Havana, advocates, in current contexts, to join forces and resources to foster in adolescent girls the ability to exercise autonomy, as the only way to improve their lives and their integral development.

"When there is no bodily autonomy there is loss of the ability to make decisions, a greater possibility of gender violence expressed in coercion, use of force, threats, pressure or intimidation, as well as lack of consent. Open dialogue about desires, options, and plans that should be carried out between sexual partners is lost, to ensure that both parties can exercise their decision-making capacity," emphasizes the researcher.

For those who assume that marriages in the first ages of life are a minor problem or "the personal decision of certain families in which we should not stick our noses," it is worth pointing out that this phenomenon is one of the reasons why Las Tunas has the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the country, with a rate of 88 per thousand pregnant women.

The implementation of the Family Code dictates the legal terms. But now it is up to the family, the school, and society, in general, to leave behind an old habit that, at the very least, limits the possibilities of the female universe in the stage in question. Above all, the love that is invoked cannot be the cause of disadvantages.

The 2019 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (Mics) revealed that 12 percent of adolescent girls surveyed in Cuba were married or in union, and six percent did so before the age of 15. It further exposed that approximately 67 percent of girls aged 15 to 19 are married or in union with a partner who is older than them, between five and more than 10 years. One-third have a spouse more than 10 years older than them. These data coincide with other research results.

This media went to the neighborhoods to put faces on the figures. That is why we learned that Yoenia would like to return to the Pre, Dianelis hopes to practice Civil Construction and Inesita wants to return from Matanzas. It is vital to look at future women beyond their sexual capacity and domestic skills. At that age, marriage means a notorious change in their universe, a rupture of plans, the postponement of goals, of dreams, that sometimes, they can no longer materialize.