Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
* 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)
In Madagascar, where nearly half of the the population is under 14 years old and traditional practices prevail, child marriage is a common custom: 41% of girls are married before their 18th birthday, and 1 in 10 girls marry before 15.
Education, poverty and early marriage are interconnected in Madagascar, with approximately 69% of the population living below the poverty line.
Nearly 70% of girls with no education marry early, compared with 28% of those with secondary education. One study found that an additional year of schooling in Madagascar delays marriage by 1.5 years.
Despite laws in line with international human rights obligations, patriarchal cultural norms persist and child marriage ceremonies often take place in rural areas. Girls living in rural areas are 1.5 times more likely to marry as children than girls living in urban areas.
Legal age of marriage
The legal age for marriage in Madagascar is 18 for both males and females, with or without consent.
In 2007, the government changed the minimum age of marriage to 18 for both girls and boys. Previously, girls could be married at 14 and boys at 17.
Madagascar’s legal system includes legislation on adoption, birth registration and protection of children from child marriage, trafficking and sexual exploitation including sex tourism.
In June 2015, the government of Madagascar launched the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa. The First Lady noted that Madagascar has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with devastating effects on the lives of the girls affected. The campaign plans to work with partners, the police, policymakers, women’s associations, local communities and traditional leaders in order to raise awareness on and end gender-based violence, including child marriage.
- Care International, Vows of Poverty: 26 Countries Where Child Marriage Eclipses Girls’ Education, 2015
- Glick, Handy and Sahn, Schooling, Marriage and Age of First Birth, 2015
- UNICEF, Child Poverty Profiles: Madagascar, 2006