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Lebanon

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
1%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
6%

* 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: Adam Patterson | Panos | DFID

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
1%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
6%

* 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?

According to the latest available data from 2009, 6% of Lebanese girls are married before their 18th birthday and 1% are married before the age of 15.

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 Lebanon, child marriage is also driven by:

  • Displacement: Palestinian and Syrian refugee girls are increasingly entering into child marriages, especially in Bekaa Valley, Akkar (north Lebanon). This is often arranged by families to protect their daughters from sexual abuse within camps, to provide them with security and reduce their perceived economic burden. A 2016 report highlights that some child marriages among Syrian refugees are arranged by brokers and result in girls being forced into sexual slavery. A 2017 study found that many Syrian families recognise the harm of child marriage, but have few alternative options in refugee camps. Engagement periods are becoming shorter and girls are being married off quickly.
  • Family honour: The concept of al Sutra encourages families to protect their daughter’s honour and virginity. Some Syrian families are concerned about girls’ exposure to Lebanese social norms which are more liberal.
  • Religion: The minimum age for marriage differs across religions. According to a 2015 report, for Sunni communities it is 17, for Shiite it is puberty, for Druze it is 17, for Greek Catholics it is 14, for Greek Armenian and Assyrian Orthodox it is 14, for Evangelical it is 16 and for the Eastern Assyrian church it is 15. Conservative customs prevail across religions, and generally encourage the “safeguarding” of girls from immoral behaviour by marrying them off young.
  • Gender norms: The role of girls has been stereotyped within Lebanese society. Being a housewife and marrying early are seen as prime achievements and those who marry late are often considered to have limited chances in life.

What has this country committed to?

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

Lebanon co-sponsored the 2013 and 2014 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage, and co-sponsored the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage.

Lebanon ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, 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 1997, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

During its 2015 Universal Periodic Review, Lebanon agreed to examine recommendations to adopt laws to increase the age of criminal responsibility and to eliminate child and forced marriage.

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

The government’s Crisis Response plan aims to reduce child marriage by 20% by 2020.

The Lebanese Higher Council for Childhood is leading development of a national strategy and action plan to specifically address child marriage.

The Hezbollah (Shi’a militant group and political party) is strongly opposed to any efforts to address child marriage.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Lebanon has no minimum legal age for marriage for all of its citizens or any civil code regulating personal status matters.

Instead, religious courts set the age based on 15 personal status laws, some of which allow girls younger than 15 to marry. Therefore, the minimum age for marriage differs between a person and another depending of his/her religion.

Source

ABAAD and Arab Institute for Human Rights,
Regional seminar on child marriage: during democratic transition and armed conflicts, 2015, (accessed April 2018)

Freedom Fund, Struggling to survive: slavery and exploitation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, 2016, (accessed April 2018)

Government of Lebanon, Lebanon Crisis Response Plan 2017-2020, 2017, (accessed June 2018)

Save the Children, A qualitative study exploring child marriage practices among Syrian conflict-affected populations in Lebanon, 2017, (accessed April 2018)

Track Persia, Support child marriage, says Iran-backed Hezbolla, [website], 2017, (accessed June 2018)

UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2017, (accessed February 2018)

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review:
Lebanon, 2015, p.16, (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)