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"The case is shocking," said Maria Luisa Cava del Llano, Spain's ombudswoman.
Under Spanish law, having consensual sex with someone under age 13 is classified as child abuse. But a Justice Ministry official said this particular case is complicated, because the alleged father is not in Spain and is also a minor. It is not clear whether he could be charged, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of ministry policy.
Romanian law allows girls to get married at age 16 with parental consent, or at 18 without it.
But arranged "marriages" between teenagers are relatively common among Roma, who make up about 1.5 million of Romania's 22 million people. Families "marry off" daughters when they reach puberty, with the "husband" usually being a couple of years older. The marriages are not recognized by the state.
Roma girls are often not encouraged to pursue a full education, and Romanian authorities do not widely enforce education laws that require children to attend school until age 16.
In 2003, there was an international outcry after the European Union envoy to Romania, Baroness Emma Nicholson, demanded that a 12-year-old Roma girl and her 15-year-old common-law husband separate and cease all intimate relations until they were legally able to be married. The couple did separate for an unknown amount of time.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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