A girl participates in a performance to protest early marriages in November, 2015 (DFWatch)

TBILISI, DFWatch–More than 1,440 minors became parents in 2015 and there were registered 611 marriages of people from 16 to 18 years, according to a report published Monday by Georgia’s ombudsman.

In 2014, there were registered 665 marriages involving minors. In 95 percent of cases, the minor was a girl. The report also shows that 408 minors left school because they got married.

“It is obvious that in case of early marriage, we are dealing with girls, however there are cases when underage boys are getting married,” the report reads.

According to the report, the highest number of minors who became parents – 393 – occurred in Tbilisi, followed by Imereti region – 234, Kakheti – 192, Kvemo Kartli – 189 and Adjara – 147.

“The study of the situation showed that the main challenges are the low level of public awareness, gaps in service delivery and ineffective response mechanism,” the report reads.

“These problems are particularly obvious in the mountainous areas and in the regions populated by ethnic minorities, where access to services is complicated by a number of reasons.”

In December 2015, parliament passed a bill which changed the rules for registering marriage for persons between 17 and 18 years of age. Now, only a court is authorized to issue a marriage license in such cases.

A few days ago, a local radio station reported that imams in traditional mosques in Pankisi, in the northeast of Georgia, won’t approve a marriage if any of the couple is under 18.

Read the full report here: http://ombudsman.ge/uploads/other/3/3488.pdf