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

There is no publicly available government data on child marriage in China.

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 very limited information on child marriage in China.

A 2016 study by the UN Action for Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons highlights cases of young Cambodian girls being trafficked to China to marry.

There are also reports of young girls from Vietnam being forcibly married there, and of girls from Kachin and Shan states, Myanmar, crossing into China to escape conflict and then being forcibly married.

Some have cautioned that the significant gender imbalance caused by China’s one child policy and gender selective abortion will increase in coming years and see more men searching for foreign brides.

What has this country committed to?

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

China ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992, 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.

Ahead of China’s 2013 Universal Periodic Review, the UN Human Rights Committee raised concerns that China is a source, transit and destination point for young girls who are subject to trafficking.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Marriage Law 2001 the minimum age of marriage is 22 years for men and 20 years for women.


Aljazeera, A forced bride: We survive for each day, [website], 2014, (accessed February 2018)

CNN, Vietnamese girls smuggled into China and sold as child brides, [website], 2016, (accessed February 2018)

UN General Assembly, Compilation prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights…to Council resolution 16/21 China (including Hong Kong, China and Macao, China), 2013, p.10,10, (accessed February 2018)

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

United States State Department, Trafficking in Persons Report, Country Narratives, 2014, (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)

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