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Child marriage around the world:

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 15
10%
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 18
37%
International Ranking*

22

* 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: UNICEF

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 15
10%
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 18
37%
International Ranking*

22

* 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.

37% of girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo are married before their 18th birthday.

The military conflict has increased the incidence of child marriage by creating a climate where sexual violence is widespread and there is limited rule of law and impunity for perpetrators.

Drivers

In the DRC, an estimated 200,000 girls and women have experienced sexual violence due to war. Girls and women who have experienced sexual violence are often left with devastating health complications, stigmatised and rejected by their families.

High levels of poverty and the practice of bride price also contribute to high child marriage rates in DRC, as well as family debt whereby girls become part of the financial settlement.

Low educational attainment is also associated with the prevalence of child marriage in DRC. 50% of women aged 20-24 with primary education were married before 18 years, compared to 23% of women with secondary education or higher.

In 2010, women aged 20- 24 and living in rural areas were 1.7 times as likely to be married before 18 years than their urban counterparts.

Legal age of marriage

Congolese family law states that both parties must personally consent to being married, and that the legal age of marriage is 18 for men and 15 for women. However, an under-resourced and corrupt legal system means that the rule of law is rarely enforced.

Sources
  • Amnesty International, Democratic Republic of Congo Country Report, 2009
  • Free the Slaves, Wives in Slavery – Forced Marriage in the Congo Brief, 2015
  • UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), UN Committee on the Rights of the Child: Concluding Observations: Democratic Republic of the Congo, 9 July 2001
  • Human Rights Watch: Democratic Republic of Congo: Ending Impunity for Sexual Violence, https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/06/10/democratic-republic-congo-ending-impunity-sexual-violence
  • UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2016