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Cambodia

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
2%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
19%

* 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: Women Win

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
2%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
19%

* 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?

Almost one in five girls in Cambodia are married before their 18th birthday and 2% are married before the age of 15.

Child marriage is most prevalent in rural, remote areas with high ethnic minority populations, including Rattanakiri and Mondulkiri provinces.

Parents or husbands sometimes bribe local authorities to forge a girl’s date of birth to enable her to marry underage.

Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys. In Cambodia, child marriage is also driven by:

  • Traditional customs: Chbab srey – a traditional code of conduct – teaches that girls should remain pure “like cotton wool”, and the role of girls in seen to be that of housekeeper, reproducer and wife, and encourages the early marriage of girls to fulfil such roles.
  • Level of education: 2016 UNICEF data shows that one in three girls aged 15-19 who have never attended school have started to bear children, which often leads to child marriage. Rates are higher among ethnic minorities.
  • Poverty: Damage caused by illegal logging, land grabbing and economic land concessions forces many children to drop out of school and work in order to support their families. This places girls at a higher risk of marrying young as a survival strategy.
  • Trafficking: Many young girls who travel across provinces or into China with the false promise of employment are then forced into marriage.

What has this country committed to?

Cambodia has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Cambodia co-sponsored the 2014 UN General Assembly resolution and the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage.

In 1992 Cambodia acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

Cambodia has committed to the ASEAN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Violence against Children (2013), which acknowledges the importance of strengthening ASEAN efforts to protect children from all forms of violence, including child marriage.

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

In the Neary Rattanak IV strategy (2014-2018), led by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, child marriage is identified as a key barrier to strengthening education for girls.

UNICEF Cambodia is supporting the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to develop a Provincial Action Plan on Ending Child Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy in Rattanakiri province.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Civil Code 2007 the minimum age of marriage is 18 years for girls and boys. However, individuals can marry at 16 years to someone who has reached the age of majority with the consent of their parents or guardians.

Source

ASEAN Commission on the Rights of Women and Children, The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Elimination of Violence against Children in ASEAN, 2013, (accessed February 2018)

Cambodian Center for Human Rights, Cambodia’s Women in Land Conflict, 2016, (accessed February 2018)

Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Cambodia, Neary Rattanak IV strategy (2014-2018), 2014, (accessed February 2018)

National Institute of Statistics, Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey, 2014, (accessed February 2018)

Plan Cambodia, Sounding the Alarm on Child Marriage in Cambodia, 2014, (accessed February 2018)

The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW (NGO-CEDAW), Assessing the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Progress in Implementing the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 2013, (accessed February 2018)

The Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW, Shadow Report 2013, 2013, (accessed February 2018)

UNICEF, Annual Report 2016 Cambodia, 2016, (accessed February 2018)

UNICEF Cambodia, Girls not Brides – Ending child marriage in Cambodia, 2017, (accessed February 2018)

UN CEDAW, Concluding comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Cambodia Combined initial, second and third periodic report, 2006, (accessed February 2018)

United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, (accessed February 2018)

United Nations Action for Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons, Human trafficking vulnerabilities in Asia: A study on forced marriage between Cambodia and China, 2016, (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)