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Bhutan

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
6%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
26%

* 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 (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

Photo credit: Save the Children

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
6%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
26%

* 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 (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?

26% of girls in Bhutan are married before the age of 18 and 6% are married before their 15th birthday.

Child marriage is most prevalent in Samdrup jongkhar (where 44% of women aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18), Dagana (43%), Sarpang (40%) and Mongar (37%).

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. In Bhutan, child marriage is also driven by:

What has this country committed to?

Bhutan has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. It reported that adolescent girls continue to face risks associated with early marriage, childbearing, and gender-based violence in its 2018 National Voluntary Review, the mechanism through which governments report progress against the Sustainable Development Goals.

Bhutan 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 1981, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

Bhutan is a member of the South Asian Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC), which adopted a regional action plan to end child marriage from 2015 – 2018.

Representatives of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), including Bhutan, asserted the Kathmandu Call to Action to End Child Marriage in Asia in 2014. As part of its commitment, Bhutan will ensure access to legal remedies for child brides and establish a uniform minimum legal age of marriage of 18.

During its 2017 review, the UN Child Rights Committee recommended that the government revise the 1980 Marriage Act to ensure the minimum age of marriage for girls is 18, and to take all necessary measures to eliminate child marriage. It also urged Bhutan to increase awareness on the harmful effects of child marriage on the physical and mental wellbeing of girls, particularly targeting parents, teachers, health professionals, local authorities, judges and religious leaders.

In 2016 the CEDAW Committee raised concerns about the persistence of child marriage in the eastern region of Bhutan.

What is the government doing to address this at the national level?

The UN Child Rights Committee has welcomed recent measures taken by Bhutan to prevent child marriage, including the Adolescent Health Programme.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Marriage Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2017, 18 years is the legal age of marriage for girls and boys with no exceptions.

Source

Child Rights International Network, Bhutan: Children’s rights references in the Universal Periodic Review, [website], 2014, (accessed May 2018)

Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan, Adolescent Health Programme, [website], undated, (accessed May 2018)

National Statistics Bureau, Bhutan Multiple Indicator Survey 2010, 2011, (accessed May 2018)

South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children, [website], 2018, (accessed May 2018)

UN CEDAW, Concluding observations on the combined eighth and ninth periodic reports of Bhutan, 2016, p.11,  (accessed May 2018)

UN Child Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the combined third to fifth periodic reports of Bhutan, 2017, p.4, p.6, (accessed May 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)

Members In Bhutan