Child marriage around the world:

Cameroon

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 15
13%
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 18
38%
International Ranking*

20

* References

* 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.

Photo credit: ALVF

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 15
13%
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 18
38%
International Ranking*

20

* References

* 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.

More than 1 out of 3 girls in Cameroon are married before they turn 18 [1], but prevalence rates vary widely across regions: in the North 73% of girls marry as children, as opposed to 13% in the Littoral province [2].

Drivers

Education, or lack thereof, is strongly linked to the prevalence of child marriage: 79% of women aged 20-24 with no education and 45% with primary education were married by 18, compared to 13% of women with at least secondary schooling [3].

As in many other countries, poverty influences child marriage rates. Girls from the poorest 20% of families are 6.5 times as likely to be married before 18 as girls from the 20% richest [4].

Laws and policies

A new penal code, promulgated in July 2016, aims to end the harmful practice of child marriage. Section 356 criminalises forced marriage. Whoever compels anyone to forcibly marry can be punished with 5-10 years in prison, as well as a fine of 25,000 – 1,000,000 CFAF. If the victim is under the age of 18, the punishment may not be less than 2 years imprisonment, whatever the mitigating circumstances [5].

In November 2016, Cameroon became the 16th country to launch the African Union campaign to end child marriage.

 

Sources

[1] UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2016.

[2] UNFPA, Child marriage country profile: Cameroon, 2012.

[3] UNFPA, Child marriage country profile: Cameroon, 2012.

[4] UNFPA, Child marriage country profile: Cameroon, 2012.

[5] International Center for Research on Women, Imagining a future free of child marriage in Cameroon, July 2016.