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What countries still practice child marriage?

Questions answered : 931||Last updated on : April 18th, 2016 At 08:30am (ET)

What countries still practice child marriage?

countries still practice child marriage

The bane of child marriage can be traced back to ancient and medieval times, as a mechanism to boost population. As declared by international norms, childhood ends at the age of 18, but this has been interpreted by communities varyingly. The marriageable age was influenced and marked by different religions, usually at the onset of puberty with sometimes letting the guardian give consent. The universal definition of child marriage is a formal marriage or an informal union of two individuals, before reaching a specified age of 18 years. Largely frowned upon now, and often illegal, the practice of child marriage transcends regional and cultural boundaries. With the United Nations declaring the child marriage as a violation of human rights, the disparities persist at varying degrees.

African nations depict high number of child marriages with Niger (76%) Chad (68%) and Central African Republic (68%) being the top three nations. Owing to the religious courts and local customs, the African nations lack strict law enforcement agencies, failing in the enactment of marriageable age laws. According to the studies by International Center for Research on Women, poverty is one of the main drivers of child marriage in Niger. Hoping for economic prosperity and social status, the exchanges like bride-price and dowry catalyze the practice of child marriage.

There is a remarkable link between the level of education and the age of child marriage. Studies depict that attainment of higher levels of education leads to social and cognitive skill development, pushing early marriages at bay. In case of Chad, the Ford Foundation pointed at ‘cultural tradition, conflict, state fragility and a general bewilderment by parents and communities about what to do with large number of children in the face of a failing education system and stiffed economy,’ as the reason for the practice to be reoccurring.

Let the child be a child! Child marriages rip children off their childhood and rob their social opportunities. It affects both the genders negatively by premature nuptials. Across developing countries, one in three girls are betrothed before turning 18 and one in nine before turning 15. Analysts state, with such trends continuing, 142 million girls will be married before adulthood in this decade. These have both mental and health issues related to it. Girls under 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s and face higher risk of pregnancy-related injuries, such as obstetric fistula, high risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. The negative consequences of child marriage reach beyond the girls themselves: children of child brides are 60 percent more likely to die in the first year of life than those born to mothers older than 19. The boys on the other hand, are often forced to drop out of school and take menial jobs to support their new family. This perpetuates the cycle of poverty.

Countries like Tunisia, Algeria, Serbia account for only 2%-3% of cases of child marriage. The implementation of stringent laws does not allow marriage before the age of 18, and 16 with the consent of the guardian. Different policy measures have been put forward to tackle the menace of child marriage. These include expanding access to education to boost social skills and income earning prospects, spreading awareness through information campaigns to change the outlook of communities towards child marriage, offer incentives and spread mental and health programs.

Underlying table depicts the percentage number of child marriage by 18 around the world –

Country

Child marriage (%)
(2010-17) Married by 18

Country

Child marriage (%)
(2010-17) Married by 18

Niger

76

Peru

22

Central African Republic

68

Vanuatu

21

Chad

67

Papua New Guinea

21

Bangladesh

59

Solomon Islands

21

Burkina Faso

52

Costa Rica

21

Mali

52

Pakistan

21

South Sudan

52

Ghana

21

Guinea

51

Burundi

20

Mozambique

48

Kiribati

20

Somalia

45

Bolivia

19

Nigeria

44

Timor-Leste

19

Malawi

42

Suriname

19

Madagascar

41

Cambodia

19

Eritrea

41

Cabo Verde

18

Ethiopia

40

Haiti

18

Uganda

40

Egypt

17

Nepal

40

Lesotho

17

Sierra Leone

39

Iran

17

Democratic Republic of the Congo

37

Myanmar

16

Mauritania

37

Morocco

16

Dominican Republic

36

Palestine

15

Liberia

36

Philippines

15

Brazil

36

Turkey

15

Laos

35

Georgia

14

Sao Tome and Principe

35

Indonesia

14

Nicaragua

35

Syria

13

Afghanistan

35

Moldova

12

Sudan

34

Sri Lanka

12

Honduras

34

Kyrgyzstan

12

Zimbabwe

32

Tajikistan

12

Yemen

32

Trinidad and Tobago

11

Comoros

32

Azerbaijan

11

Zambia

31

Samoa

11

Cameroon

31

Barbados

11

Senegal

31

Viet Nam

11

Tanzania

31

Tuvalu

10

Gambia

30

Albania

10

Angola

30

Ukraine

9

Guyana

30

Jordan

8

Equatorial Guinea

30

Jamaica

8

Guatemala

30

Saint Lucia

8

Congo

27

Uzbekistan

7

India

27

Kazakhstan

7

Côte d’Ivoire

27

Namibia

7

Nauru

27

Macedonia

7

Panama

26

Rwanda

7

Marshall Islands

26

Lebanon

6

Mexico

26

Turkmenistan

6

Cuba

26

South Africa

6

Belize

26

Tonga

6

Benin

26

Djibouti

5

Bhutan

26

Armenia

5

El Salvador

26

Swaziland

5

Uruguay

25

Mongolia

5

Guinea-Bissau

24

Montenegro

5

Iraq

24

Qatar

4

Colombia

23

Maldives

4

Kenya

23

Bosnia and Herzegovina

4

Thailand

23

Belarus

3

Ecuador

22

Serbia

3

Gabon

22

Algeria

3

Togo

22

Tunisia

2

Paraguay

22

Know more:

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