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Fact Sheet on Ending Child Marriage

Fact Sheet on Ending Child Marriage

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Published by unecagender
This fact sheet provides a quick but rich sketch of child marriage in Africa, citing evidence of the harsh physical, psychological and economic impact of early marriage on young girls. It includes a quick overview of the legal frameworks in place to put an end to this practice and recommends ways forward. This brochure was produced by the African Union with the support of the ECA's African Centre for Gender.
This fact sheet provides a quick but rich sketch of child marriage in Africa, citing evidence of the harsh physical, psychological and economic impact of early marriage on young girls. It includes a quick overview of the legal frameworks in place to put an end to this practice and recommends ways forward. This brochure was produced by the African Union with the support of the ECA's African Centre for Gender.

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Published by: unecagender on May 28, 2014
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End child marriage in Africa 
End Child Marriage in Africa 
Fact Sheet 
 African Union Commission
What is Child Marriage?
Child marriage is the formal or informal union of a child or adolescent before the age of 18.
1
 Te African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child defines a child as a person under the age of 18 years, and the African Youth Charter defines a minor as a person between the ages of 15 and 17.
Statistics on Child Marriage
 An estimated 58 million young women in developing countries have been mar-ried before the age 18 -- one out of every three.
2
 
Tere are 41 countries worldwide with a child marriage prevalence rate of 30 per cent or more, and of these, 30 are in Africa.
3
UNICEF reports that nearly four out of every ten young women in Africa were married or in union before the age of 18.
4
1 UNICEF (2001).
Early Marriage: Child Spouses
. Innocenti Research Centre, Florence.
2 Population Reference Bureau (2011). Who Speaks for Me? Ending Child Marriage. Washington, DC.3 Te countries are Zimbabwe (31%), Senegal (33%), Congo (33%), Gabon (33%), Sudan (34%), Sao ome & Principe (34%), Benin (34%), Cote d’Ivoire (34%), Mauritania (35%), Gambia (36%), Cameroon (36%), anzania (37%), Liberia (38%), Nigeria (39%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (39%), Ethiopia (41%), Zambia (42%), Somalia (45%), Uganda (46%), Eritrea (47%), Burkina Faso (48%), Sierra Leone (48%),  Madagascar (48%), Malawi (50%), Mozambique (52%), Mali (55%), Central African Republic (61%), Guinea (63%), Chad (72%) and Niger (75%). Source: UNFPA database. Household surveys (Demographic and Health Survey and Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey) completed between 2000 and 2011.4 UNICEF (2014). Children in Africa: Key Statistics on Child Survival, Protection and Development.  Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
 
 2 Fact Sheet
End Child Marriage in Africa 
Figure 1:
 Percentage of women aged 20–24 years who were first married or in union before ages 15 and 18, by region, 2005–2012.
5
01020304050Central AfricaSouthern AfricaWestern AfricaEastern AfricaNorthern AfricaWorld (except China)Married or in union by age 15Married or in union betweenages 15 and 18
 
In seven African countries, over half the total pop-ulation of young women was married before the age of 18: Niger (74.5 per cent), Chad (71.5 per cent), Mali (70.6 per cent), Guinea (63.1 per cent), Central African Republic (60.6 per cent), Mozam-bique (52 per cent), and Malawi (50.2 per cent).
6
 
Correlation between Poverty and Child Marriage
Countries with a high prevalence of child marriage tend to have a low gross domestic product (GDP).  According to UNICEF, girls living in the poorest 20 per cent of households in Cote d’Ivoire are three times as likely to be married before the age of 18 as are girls in the richest 20 per cent of households. In Senegal, the poorest girls are four times as likely to be married before age 18 as the richest.
7
 Poverty, gender-based violence and gender discrimination are key drivers of child marriage.
5 Ibid.6 Population Reference Bureau, op. cit.7
UNICEF (2005). Early Marriage: A Harmful raditional Practice. Paris.
Interplay between Child Marriage and Maternal Mortality
Te leading causes of maternal mortality and mor-bidity for girls under the age of 18 are pregnancy and childbirth.
 
Child brides are almost always mar-ried to older men and lack the standing or skills to negotiate over sex or birth control. Child brides are more likely to experience high rates of birth, high maternal and child mortality, obstetric fistulae, premature births, still births, sexually transmitted diseases (including cervical cancer) and domestic violence. Te child of a mother aged 18 and under has a 60 per cent or greater chance of dying in its first year.
8
Harmful Traditional Practices
Every social grouping in the world has specific cultural practices and beliefs, some of which are beneficial to all members, while others are harmful to a specific subgroup, such as girls and women. raditional practices that harm girls and women
8 UNICEF (n.d.). Child Protection from Violence, Exploitation and Abuse. New York. Available from http://www.unicef.org/protection/57929_58008.html.
 
End Child Marriage in Africa 
Fact Sheet
include child marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), breast ironing, force feeding, various taboos or practices that prevent women from controlling their own fertility, nutritional taboos, traditional birth practices, son preference, female infanticide, early pregnancy and bridal dowry.
9
 Despite their harmful nature and their violation of international human rights laws, such practices persist and require a concerted effort by all stakeholders for their elimination.
A Violation of Human Rights
Child marriage is a violation of human rights, compromising the development of girls and often resulting in early pregnancy and social isolation. Girls married early usually have little education or vocational training. Child marriage therefore rein-
9 United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (n.d.). Harmful raditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children, Fact Sheet No. 23. Geneva.
forces the gendered nature of poverty.
10
 In view of this, declarations against child marriage have been included in a number of legal instruments at the continental and international level (see following page).
 
10 UNICEF (2005). Op. cit..
International Human Rights Framework for the Eradication of Child Marriage
 According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948, article 16[2]), “marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.”
 The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) establishes that “the betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory” (article 16[2]).
 The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) defines a child as any person less than 18 years of age (article 1) and decrees that States “shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children” (article 24).

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