Visit our new interactive Atlas!

Costa Rica

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
7%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
21%

* 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)

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
7%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
21%

* 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?

21% of girls in Costa Rica are married before their 18th birthday and 7% are married before the age of 15.

Child marriage rates are highest in Limón (where 36% of women aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18), Guanacaste (32%), Puntarenas (30%) and San José (22%).

Child marriage is most prevalent among indigenous and Afro-Costa Rican communities.

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 Costa Rica, child marriage is also driven by:

What has this country committed to?

Costa Rica 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 2017 High Level Political Forum.

Costa Rica co-sponsored the 2017 Human Rights Council resolution recognising the need to address child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian contexts.

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

Costa Rica 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 1986, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

In January 2017 a new law on “improper relations” (Ley de Relaciones Impropias) was adopted, which prohibits civil marriages when a person under the age of 18 is involved. Previously, minors between the ages of 15-18 years could marry with parental permission.

Source

Costa Rica Gobierno, Costa Rica fortalece medidas para proteger a las personas menores de edad mediante la Ley de Relaciones Impropias, [website], 2017, (accessed February 2018)

Ministerio de Salud y UNICEF, Encuesta de Indicadores Múltiples por Conglomerados 2011, 2013, (accessed February 2018)

Thomas Reuters Foundation, Experts hope raising minimum marriage age to 18 will prevent teen pregnancy and girls dropping out of school, [website], 2017, (accessed February 2018)

UN CEDAW Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Costa Rica, 2017, (accessed April 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)