Visit our new interactive Atlas!

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
10%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
37%
International Ranking*

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: UNICEF

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
10%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
37%
International Ranking*

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?

37% of girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are married before their 18th birthday, and 10% are married before the age of 15.

According to UNICEF, the DRC has the nineteenth highest prevalent rate of child marriage in the world and the ninth highest absolute number of child brides – 1.3 million.

A 2017 study shows that ending child marriage in the DRC could generate USD169 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 girls are somehow inferior to boys. In the DRC, child marriage is also driven by:

What has this country committed to?

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

The DRC co-sponsored the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage, and signed a joint statement at the 2014 Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.

The DRC 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 in 1986, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

The DRC has not yet signed or ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, including Article 21 regarding the prohibition of child marriage.

In 2008, the DRC 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.

The DRC is also one of 20 countries committed to ending child marriage by the end of 2020 under the Ministerial Commitment on comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young people in Eastern and Southern Africa.

During its 2014 Universal Periodic Review, the DRC supported recommendations to adopt provisions prohibiting child marriage and to continue efforts towards eliminating the practice.

In 2013 the CEDAW Committee raised concerns about the high drop-out rate of Congolese girls due to child marriage and the different minimum ages of marriage for girls and boys.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

According to the Child Protection Act 2009 the legal minimum age of marriage is 18 years for girls and boys with no exceptions.

Source

African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, [website], 2018, accessed February 2018)

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, (accessed February 2018)

CEDAW, Concluding observations on the combined sixth and seventh periodic reports of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2013, [unpublished]

Congolese Females Action for Promoting Rights and Development, DRC: Tackling Poverty and Child Marriage, Through Education and Women’s Empowerment, [website], 2013, (accessed May 2018)

Free the Slaves, Wives in Slavery – Forced Marriage in the Congo Brief, 2015, (accessed May 2018)

Ministère du Plan et Suivi de la Mise en oeuvre de la Révolution de la Modernité, Ministère de la Santé Publique et ICF International, Enquête Démographique et de Santé en République Démocratique du Congo 2013-2014, 2014, (accessed May 2018)

Ministerial Commitment on comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young people in Eastern and Southern Africa [website], 2014, (accessed February 2018)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014, (accessed April 2018)

The Women’s Refugee Commission, A Girl No More: The Changing Norms of Child Marriage in Conflict, 2016, (accessed March 2018)

UNFPA, Child marriage profiles, Democratic Republic of the Congo, General Information, 2012, accessed May 2018)

UN CEDAW, Concluding observations on the combined second to fourth periodic report of the Congo, 2013, p.9, (accessed June 2018)

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2014, p.13, (accessed March 2018)

United Nations, Background Information on Sexual Violence used as a Tool of War, [website], 2017, (accessed March 2018)

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

United Nations University, Bride price and the wellbeing of women, 2017, (accessed March 2018)

Women’s Refugee Commission, A Girl No More: The Changing Norms of Child Marriage in Conflict, 2016, (accessed March 2018)

World Bank and International Center for Research on Women, Economic Impacts of Child Marriage: Global Synthesis Report, 2017, (accessed March 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)

Members In Democratic Republic of the Congo