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Congo

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
7%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
27%

* 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: Russell Watkins | Department for International Development

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
7%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
27%

* 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?

27% of girls in Congo are married before their 18th birthday and 7% are married before the age of 15.

Child marriage is most prevalent in rural areas, and particularly in Plateaux (where 45% of women aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18), Likouala (39%) and Sangha (37%).

6% of boys in Congo are married before the age of 18.

A 2017 World Bank/ICRW study shows that ending child marriage in Congo could generate an additional USD19 million in earnings and productivity.

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 Congo, but available studies show that it is exacerbated by:

  • Level of education:42% of women with no education were married as children, compared to only 11% with upper secondary education or higher.

Poverty: 39% of women from Congo’s poorest households were married before the age of 18, compared to only 14% from the richest households.

What has this country committed to?

Congo has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. The government did not provide an update on progress towards this target during its Voluntary National Review at the 2019 High Level Political Forum.

Congo co-sponsored the 2013 UN General Assembly resolution on child, early and forced marriage, the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage and the 2017 Human Rights Council resolution on recognising the need to address child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian contexts. In 2014, Congo signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.

Congo acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1982, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

In 2014, the UN Child Rights Committee expressed concern about the continued practice of child and forced marriage in Congo, and recommended that the government take practical measures to enforce legal probation of the practice.

In 2018, the CEDAW Committee expressed concerns about the prevalence of child marriage in the country. The Committee urged the country to revise legislation with regard to the minimum age of marriage, adopt legislation prohibiting and adequately punishing perpetrators of child marriage, and provide training for judges, prosecutors, legal professionals, law enforcement officials and medical personnel on the strict application of criminal law provisions to punish child marriage.

During its 2018 Universal Periodic Review, Congo accepted to review recommendations to adopt and implement a comprehensive law to prevent, address and punish all forms of violence against women and the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents, including early and forced marriage.

In 2006 Congo ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, including Article 21 regarding the prohibition of child marriage. In 2011 Congo ratified the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, including Article 6 which sets the minimum age for marriage as 18.

Congo is a partner country of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

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

In 2018, Congo reported to the CEDAW Committee that the Commission for the revisions of law containing discriminatory provisions against women is discussing amendments to make the betrothal and the marriage of a child illegal.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

The legal minimum age of marriage is 21 years for men and 18 years for women.

However the Public Prosecutor of the District or County People’s Court may grant exceptions to the minimum age for serious reasons.

Source

African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, [website], 2018, https://www.achpr.org/legalinstruments/detail?id=46 (accessed January 2020).

African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, [website], 2018, https://au.int/en/treaties/protocol-african-charter-human-and-peoples-rights-rights-women-africa (accessed January 2020).

Centre National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques, and ICF International, Congo Enquête Démographique et de Santé 2011-2012, 2012, https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/FR267/FR267.pdf (accessed January 2020).

Global Partnership for Education, Republic of Congo, [website], https://www.globalpartnership.org/where-we-work/republic-congo (accessed January 2020).

Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Congo, A/HRC/40/16, 2018, p. 19-20, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/CGIndex.aspx (accessed January 2020).

Institut National de la Statistique et UNICEF, Enquête par grappes à indicateurs multiples (MICS5 2014-2015), Rapport final, 2015, https://www.unicef.org/congo/rapports/enquêtes-par-grappes-à-indicateurs-multiples-mics5-2014-2015 (accessed January 2020).

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014, http://fngeneve.um.dk/en/aboutus/statements/newsdisplaypage/?newsid=6371ad93-8fb0-4c35-b186-820fa996d379 (accessed January 2020).

UN CEDAW Committee, Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of the Congo, CEDAW/C/COG/CO/7, 2018, p. 6 and 13, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CEDAW%2fC%2fCOG%2fCO%2f7&Lang=en (accessed January 2020).

UN CEDAW, Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention: Congo, CEDAW/C/COG/7, 2017, p. 35, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CEDAW%2fC%2fCOG%2f7&Lang=en (accessed January 2020).

UN Child Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the combined second to fourth periodic report of the Congo, 2014, p.16, http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC/C/COG/CO/2-4&Lang=En (accessed January 2020).

UNICEF DATA, Congo, [website], https://data.unicef.org/crvs/congo/ (accessed January 2020).

United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg5 (accessed January 2020).

World Bank and International Center for Research on Women, Economic Impacts of Child Marriage: Global Synthesis Report, 2017, http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/530891498511398503/pdf/116829-WP-P151842-PUBLIC-EICM-Global-Conference-Edition-June-27.pdf (accessed January 2020).

* 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)