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 Fiji.
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 Fiji, child marriage is also driven by:
Traditional customs: Arranged marriages are particularly common in Indo-Fijian communities.
Poverty: Some families reportedly marry off their daughters as they perceive them to be financial burdens or want to offer them a better life, particularly if they marry a foreigner. Some girls self-initiate marriages in order to benefit their whole family or to escape parental neglect.
Media: Newspapers in Fiji carry personal advertisements from men outside the country who seek young Indo-Fijian females for marriage. Young girls who marry these men often go onto work for their families and are then abused by them. If they escape the marriage and return home, they are often shunned by their families due to the stigma of separation.
What has this country committed to?
Fiji has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Fiji ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1995, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.
During its 2018 review, the CEDAW Committee recommended that Fiji fully enforce the prohibition of all forms of child marriage and increase efforts to prosecute and punish perpetrators and accomplices.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
The minimum legal age of marriage in Fiji is 21 years old. However individuals between 18-21 years old may marry with parental consent. Where parental consent is not possible, permission may be granted in some cases by a Commissioner or magistrate, as per the Marriage Act (Amendment) Decree 2009.
Save the Children, THE COMMERCIAL SEXUAL
EXPLOITATION AND SEXUAL ABUSE OF
CHILDREN IN FIJI: A SITUATIONAL
ANALYSIS, 2005, (accessed June 2018)
UN CEDAW, Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of Fiji, 2018, p.8, (accessed May 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)