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Georgia

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
1%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
14%

* 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
1%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
14%

* 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?

14% of girls in Georgia are married before their 18th birthday and 1% are married before the age of 15.

Child marriages in Georgia are difficult to track because families often circumvent the law and do not officially register the marriage until a girl is old enough. Sometimes weddings are held in rural churches or mosques and couples are considered culturally or religiously married rather than by law.

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 Georgia, child marriage is also driven by:

  • Political context: Child marriage rates increased in the 1990s after the break-up of the Soviet Union, when unemployment and socioeconomic hardships were common.
  • Level of education: Low value is placed on the education of girls in Georgia, and some families do not see why they should pursue education when their primary role will be that of a wife and mother.
  • Pre-marital sex: Georgian society places high value on virginity. Child marriage is sometimes used to control female sexuality and to legalise intimate relationships.
  • Adolescent pregnancy: Limited information about sexual and reproductive health contributes to teenage pregnancies in Georgia. According to a 2014 study, pregnant girls are more likely to marry to legitimise their pregnancies and avoid social disapproval.
  • Ethnicity: Child marriage is reportedly common among national minorities, including the Marneuli, who sometimes get married between the ages of 14 and 15. Some ethnic and religious minority girls who do not speak Georgian struggle to integrate, and marry as an “unavoidable destiny”.
  • Self-initiation: Some girls reportedly decide to marry in order to conform to certain expectations or because they fear social stigma.

What has this country committed to?

Georgia 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 2016 High Level Political Forum.

Georgia co-sponsored the 2017 Human Rights Council resolution recognising the need to address child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian contexts, and the 2015 Human Rights Council resolution to end child, early and forced marriage, recognising that it is a violation of human rights.

Georgia co-sponsored the 2013, 2014 and 2016 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage, and the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage. In 2014, Georgia signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.

Georgia acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994, 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 1994, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

During its 2015 Universal Periodic Review, Georgia supported recommendations to prevent child marriage among all ethnic groups.

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

The Ministry of Education has approved plans for national meetings involving parents, education specialists, and psychologists to discuss the topic of child marriage, as well as to disseminate information about the impact of child marriage.

A 2014 report highlights that child marriage is not taken particularly seriously at the state or societal level in Georgia, and is not currently a priority for child rights and women’s rights organisations.

UNFPA leads a peer education model that educates young people on sexual and reproductive health. More than 55,000 young people have been reached since 2006. So far, these issues have not been fully integrated into Georgia’s formal education system.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Civil Code 1997 the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years. However minors of 16 years can marry with parental or judicial consent.

Source

Advisory Centre for Women et al, Alternative report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women concerning women’s rights and gender issues in Georgia, 2014, (accessed May 2018)

Eurasianet, Georgia’s Child Brides: Opting for Marriage over School, [website], 2015,  (accessed May 2018)

Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Georgia Tightens up on Child Marriage, [website], 2015, (accessed May 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)

National Geographic, Inside the Lives of Georgia’s Child Brides, [website], 2016, (accessed May 2018)

National Statistics Office of Georgia, Georgia Reproductive Health Survey 2010-2011, 2011,  (accessed June 2018)

UNFPA, Child marriage in Georgia (Overview), 2014, (accessed June 2018)

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Georgia, 2015, p.19, (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)