Child marriage is a serious human rights violation. It denies girls their rights to health, to education, to live in security and to choose when and whom they marry –rights that are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Child marriage and forced marriage are closely inter-linked. Both are a violation of the right, widely recognised in international human rights law, of men and women to enter into marriage only with their ‘free and full consent’. In the United Kingdom, for example, the government’s Forced Marriage Unit reported that 45% of cases of forced marriage that it dealt with in the first half of 2012 involved children under 18.
“Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948)