Child Marriage


Child Marriage

Worldwide, more than 650 million women alive today were married as children.

Child marriage, or early marriage, is any marriage where at least one of the parties is under 18 years of age. A child marriage is considered to be a form of forced marriage, given that one and/or both parties have not expressed full, free and informed consent.

Every year at least 12 million girls are married before they reach the age of 18. This is 28 girls every minute. One in every five girls is married, or in union, before reaching age 18. In the least developed countries, that number doubles – 40 per cent of girls are married before age 18, and 12 per cent of girls are married before age 15.

Where We Stand

“Harmful traditional practices are consequences of the value placed on women and the girl child by certain societies, persisting in an environment where women and girls have unequal access to education, wealth, health and employment. The effects of these practices are significant and have a negative impact on the physical and mental health of women and girls, as well as psychosocial consequences on communities.”

Child Marriage and the SI Road to Equality

Child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) is a human rights violation and a harmful practice that disproportionately affects women and girls globally, preventing them from living their lives free from all forms of violence.

Several international instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights call for a uniform age of marriage and emphasise the importance of free, full and informed consent to marriage.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends that the minimum age of marriage be 18 years, while CEDAW obligates States to ensure, on the basis of equality between men and women, the right to freely choose a spouse and enter into marriage only with free and full consent.

Watch the SI Voices Webinar on Ending Child Marriage

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