What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?
There is no publicly available government data on child marriage in Russia.
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 limited information on child marriage in Russia, but available studies show that it is driven by:
- Kidnapping: In 2017 there were reports of child marriage and bride kidnapping in the North Caucasus.
- Power dynamics: In 2015 a middle-aged Chechen police officer’s plans to marry a 17 year old girl from a small village in the region made international headlines. Russia Children’s Rights Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov defended the marriage, arguing that emancipation and sexual maturity happen at an early age in the Caucasus.
- Trafficking: According to a 2017 report, children from Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa and Central Asia are victims of sex trafficking and forced prostitution in Russia. Russian children are reportedly victims of sex trafficking domestically and abroad. The link between this and child marriage is unclear.
What has this country committed to?
Russia has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Russia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and 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.
During Russia’s 2015 review, the CEDAW Committee raised concerns about the increasing prevalence of harmful practices, including child marriage, in the country.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
Under the Family Code 1997 the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years. However individuals can marry at 16 years with permission of local public authorities.
Family Law and Divorce in Russia, The Chechen Wedding, [website], [undated], (accessed May 2018)
Human Rights Watch, Dispatches: Will Russia protect a child bride?, [website], 2015, (accessed May 2018)
UN CEDAW, Concluding observations on the eighth periodic report of the Russian Federation, 2015, p.6, (accessed May 2018)
United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, (accessed February 2018)
United States State Department, Trafficking in persons report, 2017, (accessed June 2018)
United States State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017, Russia, 2018, (accessed May 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)