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Guinea-Bissau

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
6%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
24%

* 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
6%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
24%

* 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?

24% of girls in Guinea-Bissau are married before their 18th birthday and 6% are married before the age of 15.

Child marriage is most prevalent in Gabu (where 67% of women aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18), Bafata (52%), Quinara (42%) and Tombali (41%).

Child marriage is much more common in rural parts of Guinea-Bissau.

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 Guinea-Bissau, child marriage is also driven by:

  • Poverty: 45% of women living in Guinea-Bissau’s poorest households were married before the age of 18, compared to only 19% in the richest households.
  • Level of education: 54% of women with no education were married as children, compared to only 9% of women who had completed secondary education or higher.
  • Traditional customs: Harmful practices such as Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C), sexual rituals and child marriage continue to take place in rural parts of Guinea-Bissau. These practices often highlight the submission of girls and women, humiliate them and rarely consider their choice or opinion. Girls who are forced into marriage often face exploitation in their new husband’s home and by their new family members, including rape.
  • Trafficking: Some girls who have fled arranged marriages are trafficked into commercial sex. The buying and selling of child brides continues to take place.

What has this country committed to?

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

Guinea-Bissau co-sponsored the 2013 UN General Assembly 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.

Guinea-Bissau 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 1985, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

In 2005 Guinea-Bissau signed, but has not yet ratified, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, including Article 21 regarding the prohibition of child marriage.

In 2008 Guinea-Bissau 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.

As a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Guinea-Bissau has adopted the Strategic Framework for Strengthening National Child Protection Systems under which protecting children from marriage is a priority.

During Guinea-Bissau’s 2015 Universal Periodic Review, recommendations were made to improve the school attendance of girls as a way of discouraging child marriage in rural areas. The government reported that child marriage is embedded in traditional culture and that eliminating the practice would take a “great deal of time” and require “careful handling”. It agreed to take practical steps to eradicate the number of child marriages, including through public information campaigns.

At the London Girl Summit in July 2014, the government signed a charter committing to end child marriage by 2020.

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

Mr. Carlos Alberto Kennedy De Barros, Guinea-Bissau’s Minister for Women, Family and Social Solidarity, spoke about the political and strategic implications of child marriage at the High Level Meeting on Ending Child Marriage in Senegal in October 2017.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

The minimum legal age of marriage in Guinea-Bissau is 18 years. However it is unclear what the legal age of marriage is with parental consent.

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)

Girl Summit 2014, The Girl Summit Charter on Ending FGM and Child, Early and Forced Marriage, [website], 2015, (accessed February 2018)

Ministerio da Economia e Financas, Direccao Geral do Plano, Instituto Nacional de Estatistica, Inquérito aos Indicadores Múltiplos (MICS) 2014, Relatório Final, 2014, (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)

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Guinea-Bissau, 2015, p.6, p.8, p.18, (accessed May 2018)

UN General Assembly, Summary prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in accordance with paragraph 15 (c) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 and paragraph 5 of the annex to Council resolution 16/21, 2014, (accessed May 2018)

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

United States State Department Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017, Guinea-Bissau, [website], 2018, (accessed May 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)