What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?
Child marriage is most prevalent in St. Michael, St. James, St. George and St. Thomas.
Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?
Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys. There is limited information on child marriage in Barbados, but available data shows that it is driven by:
- Level of education: 22% of women who had only completed primary school were married before the age of 18, compared to 13% who had completed higher education.
- Poverty: 19% of women living in Barbados’ poorest households married as children, compared to only 13% of those living in the richest households.
What has this country committed to?
Barbados has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Barbados ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1980, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.
In 2017 the CEDAW Committee raised concerns about reports of girls running away from home due to child marriage, and a lack of information on causes and measures taken by Barbados to address the problem.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
The legal minimum age of marriage is 18 for both women and men. However individuals between the ages of 16 and 18 can be married with the consent of their parents.
Barbados Statistical Service, Barbados Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2012: Final Report, 2014, (accessed April 2018)
UN CEDAW, Concluding observations on the combined fifth to eighth periodic reports of Barbados, 2017, p.12, (accessed April 2018)
United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, (accessed February 2018)
* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)