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 9% 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 poor families, with limited education 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 the most severe flooding it has ever seen, leaving more than 120,000 children displaced. There are reports that the increased levels of poverty and insecurity after the floods exacerbated child marriage as families sought to secure a better future for their daughters and hoped to gain financially from the institution of bride wealth.
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.
Country-wide initiatives to end child marriage
In June 2016 the Ministry of Social Affairs and UNICEF in Benin launched the ‘Zero Tolerance to Child Marriage’. The campaign aims to end child marriage by changing social norms and creating a protective environment for children and their communities. The steering committee aims to raise awareness, across sectors, about children’s rights and access to protection.
The national youth platform “Plateforme des Jeunes Synergie d’Action pour la Campagne Tolérance Zéro” plays a key role in implementing the campaign and break the silence on sexual violence against children.
On 16 June 2017, Benin became the 20th country to launch the African Union campaign to end child marriage.
Members In Benin
- Association Béninoise Pour la Promotion des Orphelins et Enfants Abandonnés (A.BE.EA)
- Club UEMOA
- CRADDES – Le Centre de Recherche et d’Action pour le Développement Durable et l’Épanouissement des Sociétés
- Femmes Enfants et Environnement pour le Developpement (FEE-D)
- The Hunger Project
- 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