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Child marriage around the world:

Mali

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 15
15%
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 18
55%
International Ranking*

4

* 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: APSEF

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 15
15%
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 18
55%
International Ranking*

4

* 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.

Mali is among the 25 poorest countries in the world and has a predominantly young population, with 54% under 18 years.

Despite a slight decrease in child marriage rates over the past 30 years, child marriage is still common across Mali with more than 1 in 2 girls married before their 18th birthday.

Drivers

There is a strong relationship between girls’ limited access to education and the prevalence of child marriage in Mali. More than 9 out of 10 married girls aged 15–19 cannot read at all.

There is a clear link between polygyny and child marriage. Child brides are more likely to be a 2nd, 3rd or 4th wife. The younger a bride is in Mali, the less decision-making power they have over whether their marriage will be polygynous or monogamous.

With so many young girls forced into child marriage and bearing children before they are physically mature, the rates of maternal and neonatal death are high. A Malian woman’s chances of dying due to pregnancy or childbirth related complications are 1 in 15.

Legal age of marriage

The legal age of marriage is 16 for girls and 18 for boys, but girls may be married under the age of 16 under customary and Sharia law.

Government response

The Government of Mali passed the Personal and Family Code (2011) after much debate over the minimum age of marriage. However, Amnesty International argues that this code discriminates against women in almost all aspects of family life and perpetuates marital inequality.

On 11 October 2015 as part of the African Union’s campaign to end child marriage, Mali launched its national campaign, titled, “Education for girls: a means to eliminating early child marriage”. The campaign is spearheaded by the First lady and emphasises the need to keep girls in schools to tackle child marriage.

Sources
  • Amnesty International, Mali: Widespread Human Rights Abuses in the Wake of the Military Coup, 2013
  • Care International, Vows of Poverty: 26 Countries Where Child Marriage Eclipses Girls’ Education, 2015
  • Mali, Demographic and Health Survey, 2001
  • Population Council, Child Marriage Briefing: Mali Population Council, 2004