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Laos

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
9%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
35%

* 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
9%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
35%

* 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?

35% of Lao girls are married before their 18th birthday and 9% are married before the age of 15.

Child marriage is most prevalent in remote rural areas, including in Huaphanh (where 48% of women aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18), Xayabury (47%), Bokeo and Oudomxay (46%).

Child marriage is most prevalent among the Hmong Mien (57%), Mon-Khmer (47%) and Chinese-Tibetan (41%) ethnic groups.

According to UNFPA, Laos is one of only 10 countries with a child marriage prevalence rate of over 10% for boys.

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 Laos, child marriage is also driven by:

What has this country committed to?

Laos has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Laos reported on the progress and some of the challenges of measuring indicators related to gender and child marriage in its 2018 Voluntary National Review at the High Level Political Forum, the mechanism through which countries report on progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Laos acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1981, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

Laos has committed to the ASEAN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Violence against Children (2013), which acknowledges the importance of strengthening ASEAN efforts to protect children from all forms of violence, including early marriage.

During its 2015 Universal Periodic Review, Laos agreed to examine recommendations to establish legislation which penalises child marriage.

In 2011 the UN Child Rights Committee recommended that the government consolidate a national system for data collection, analysis, research and strategies to address violence against children.

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

Laos’ National Social Economic Development Plan (2016-2020) includes a performance indicator related to adolescent pregnancy as a first step towards reducing child marriage.

The National Plan of Action for Mothers and Children (2016-2018) includes an objective on decreasing child marriage. The plan also includes a project on training of trainers at the provincial and district level to disseminate, monitor and support efforts related to child marriage.

In 2014 the National Commission for Mothers and Children, in collaboration with the Lao Statistics Bureau and UNICEF, conducted a national study on violence against children as a first step in producing future policy and legislation. This was the first ever comprehensive study which included information on child marriage in Laos.

Laos adopted the National Plan of Action to Prevent and Eliminate Violence against Women and Children (2014 to 2020) and Law on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Children in 2015. Article 17 defines forced marriage as a form of violence against women and children, and Article 79 notes that people forcing a child under 18 to marry will be imprisoned and fined.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Family Law 1990 the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years. However individuals may marry at 15 years in special cases, with mutual consent from both sides without coercion from and side or individual.

Source

ASEAN Commission on the Rights of Women and Children, The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Elimination of Violence against Children in ASEAN, 2013, (accessed February 2018)

Asian Development Bank and World Bank, Country Gender Assessment for Lao PDR, 2012,
(accessed February 2018)

ECPAT, Global Monitoring status of action against sexual exploitation of children, Lao PDR, 2017, (accessed February 2018)

Indian Council for Child Welfare, Laos Country Spotlight, [undated], (accessed February 2018)

Lao Ministry of Health and Lao Statistics Bureau, UNICEF et. al, Lao PDR Lao Social Indicator Survey (LSIS) 2011 – 12, 2012, (accessed February 2018)

Lao Ministry of Planning and Investment, Annex 2. Handbook on the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for the Eighth National Socio-Economic Development Plan, 2016, (accessed February 2018)

Lao National Assembly, Law on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Children, 2014, (accessed February 2018)

UNFPA, Child marriage – frequently asked questions, [website], 2018, (accessed June 2018)

UNFPA, Teenage Pregnancy is Way of Life in Remote Laotian Villages, [website], 2013, (accessed June 2018)

UNICEF, UNICEF Annual Report 2014, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, 2015,  (accessed April 2018)

UNICEF, Violence against Children in Lao PDR, 2014, (accessed February 2018)

UN Child Rights Committee, Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 44 of the Convention, Second to Sixth periodic reports of States parties due in 2016, Lao, 2017, p.7, (accessed February 2018)

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Lao People’s Democratic Republic, 2015, p.20, (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)