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Maldives

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
n/a
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
4%

* 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
n/a
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
4%

* 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?

4% of girls in the Maldives are married before the age of 18.

According to UNICEF, the Maldives has the lowest rate of child marriage in South Asia

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 the Maldives, child marriage is also driven by:

  • Traditional customs: Many communities in the Maldives disapprove of sexual activity outside of marriage and some young girls are married off in order to avoid bringing disgrace to their families.
  • Poverty: Financial challenges encourage some families to marry off daughters to reduce their perceived economic burden. Wealthier girls reportedly wait an average of three years longer to marry than poorer girls in the Maldives.
  • Religion: Studies suggest that child marriage is more common in communities following Sharia law, which allows girls to marry at the age of 15.
  • Level of education: Schooling is not compulsory in the Maldives, which places some young girls at risk of dropping out of school early to marry.
  • Migration: A 2010 report suggests that some Maldivians travel to Pakistan or India to carry out illegal child marriages which are not officially registered.

What has this country committed to?

The Maldives 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 2017 High Level Political Forum.

The Maldives co-sponsored the 2015 Human Rights Council resolution to end child, early and forced marriage, recognising that it is a violation of human rights.

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

The Maldives ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 and acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1993, with general reservations regarding any provisions contradictory to the government’s interpretation of Sharia law or Maldivian tradition.

The Maldives is a member of the South Asian Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC), which adopted a regional action plan to end child marriage from 2015 – 2018.

Representatives of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), including the Maldives, asserted the Kathmandu Call to Action to End Child Marriage in Asia in 2014. As part of its commitment, the Maldives will ensure access to legal remedies for child brides and establish a uniform minimum legal age of marriage of 18.

The Maldives took part in the South Asia Parliamentarians’ Meeting “Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage” in 2016.

During its 2015 Universal Periodic Review, the Maldives supported recommendations to incorporate provisions to counter child marriage in the draft child protection act and strengthen efforts to eliminate out-of-court and child marriages.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Family Act 2000 the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years.

However individuals who have reached puberty can marry before 18 years with the permission of the Registrar of Marriages.

Source

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014,
(accessed April 2018)

Ministry of Health and Family, Maldives Demographic and Health Survey 2009, 2010, (accessed April 2018)

SAIEVAC, South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children, [website], 2018, http://www.saievac.org/ (accessed February 2018)

UNFPA, the International Center for Research on Women and Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, Child Marriage in Southern Asia: Policy Options for Action, 2012, https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Child_Marriage.pdf (accessed February 2018)

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Maldives, 2015, p.15, (accessed June 2018)

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

United States State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, 2010 Maldives Human Rights Report, 2011, (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)