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Marshall Islands

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
6%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
26%

* 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
26%

* 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?

Over a quarter of girls in the Marshall Islands are married before the age of 18 and 6% are married before their 15th birthday.

Rates may be even higher due to customary and informal cohabitation marriages which are not officially registered in courts.

According to UNFPA, the Marshall Islands is one of only 10 countries where child marriage prevalence among boys is above 10%.

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.

There is very limited information on child marriage in the Marshall Islands.

A 2015 report from the Universal Periodic Review for the Marshall Islands suggests that the practice is widely condoned due to cultural acceptance of teenage pregnancy.

What has this country committed to?

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

The Marshall Islands ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993, 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 2006, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

During its 2015 Universal Periodic Review, the Marshall Islands agreed to examine recommendations to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18.

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

In February 2016, the Ministry of Internal Affairs submitted an amended bill to cabinet, which raised the minimum age of marriage for girls from 16 to 18 years.

The Ministry of Health, Youth to Youth in Health and the Wa Kuk Wa Jimor (the government department responsible for reaching outer islands) have been conducting community outreach awareness programmes on teenage pregnancy, school drop outs and cohabitation among children in the Marshall Islands.

In 2016, the United States State Department reported that there were no government programmes to address or prevent child marriage in the Marshall Islands.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Amendment to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act in August 2016 raised the minimum legal age for marriage of girls and boys to 18 years with no exceptions. Previously girls were able to marry at 16 years with parental consent.

It should be noted however that the minimum age of marriage in statute does not apply to customary marriages. A customary marriage requires confirmation by the High Court of the Marshall Islands.

Source

Economic Policy, Planning and Statistics Office, SPC and Macro International Inc., Republic of the Marshall Islands Demographic and Health Survey 2007, 2007, (accessed March 2018)

UNFPA, Child marriage – Frequently Asked Questions, [website], 2018, (accessed March 2018)

UN Child Rights Committee, Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 44 of the Convention Third and fourth periodic reports of States parties due in 2010, Marshall Islands, 2017, (accessed March 2018)

UN General Assembly, Compilation prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in accordance with paragraph 15 (b) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 and paragraph 5 of the annex to Council resolution 16/21, Marshall Islands, 2015, p.8, (accessed March 2018)

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Marshall Islands, 2015, p.19, (accessed March 2018)

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

United States State Department, Marshall Islands 2016 Human Rights Report, 2017, (accessed March 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)