Photo credit: Pierre Holtz | UNICEF
Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
* 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)
Almost the entire population of the Central African Republic (CAR) has been directly affected by conflict and violence. Human rights abuses against women and children are widespread, including the practice of child marriage.
Poverty and poor access to education contribute to the high prevalence of child marriage in the Central African Republic. The country has the second lowest GDP in the world, along with the second highest rate of child marriage. On average girls in the Central African Republic only stay in school until the age of 7 years.
Cultural practices such as polygamy, bride price and female genital cutting are further drivers of child marriage. Under Central African Republic’s legal code, men can take up to 4 wives and the younger the wife, the higher the social status bestowed on a family.
Child marriage is common in countries such as the Central African Republic which are experiencing conflict. Families often see child marriage as a way to ensure the safety of their daughters who otherwise maybe at risk of sexual harassment and violence.
There have been reports of girls being forced to be child soldiers or serve as concubines in a military basis.
The legal minimum age for civil marriage is 18, but marriage at 13 years can be permitted if approved by a court and/or if that girl is pregnant. Earlier marriage is also legal with parents’ consent.
- UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2016
- Council on Foreign Relations, Fragile States, Fragile Lives Child Marriage amid Disaster and Conflict, 2014
- UNICEF, Early Marriage: A Harmful Traditional Practice. A Statistical Exploration, 2005
- US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Human Rights Report: Central African Republic, 2010