Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 15
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 18
* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old.
* According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2016.
In Benin 32% of girls are married by age 18 and 11% married by 15 years.
Rates vary throughout the country with girls in the northern region of Alibori at a much higher risk of child marriage than those in the south. Girls from the poorest households, with limited educational attainment and living in rural areas are more likely to be married as children.
Child marriage occurs more frequently among girls who are the least educated, poorest and living in rural areas. In 2006, women aged 20-24 and living in rural areas were about 2.5 times as likely to be married/in union by age 18 than their urban counterparts. This urban-rural divide has increased by 37% since 2001.
In 2010, Benin faced severe flooding, leaving more than 120,000 children displaced. Increased levels of poverty and insecurity after the floods are said to have exacerbated child marriage as families sought to secure a better future for their daughters, while some hoped to make a financial gain from the institution of bride price.
Legal age of marriage
According to the Children’s Code 2007 (Le Code de l’Enfant au Bénin), the legal age of marriage for boys and girls is 18 unless an exemption is granted on grounds of age by legal process.
The effectiveness of this law is limited by poor birth registration and limited access to education.
Members In Benin
- UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children, 2016
- UNFPA, Benin: Child marriage country profile, 2012
- CARE, An assessment of gender-based violence in emergencies in Southern Benin, 2011
- Demographic and Health Surveys, 2006