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)
Nearly half of Somali girls are married by the time they turn 18.
The Somali Civil War in the late 1980s left the country in turmoil. Reports suggest that during this time, child marriage rapidly increased, as parents hoped to secure a better life for their daughters.
Child marriage in Somalia is largely driven by cultural norms. At 98%, Somalia has one of the world’s highest rates of female genital cutting, illustrating the persistence of patriarchal norms around women’s sexuality.
In addition, al-Shabaab has promoted child marriage as part of the effort to impose its harsh version of Sharia. Human Rights Watch have reported an organised practice whereby al-Shabaab preaches marriage with fighters to girls still in school. There have also been reports of girls abducted and forced into marriage.
Legal age of marriage
The legal age for marriage in Somalia is 18 for both males and females, but a girl can get married at 16 with parental consent.
Members In Somalia
- UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2016
- Human Rights Watch, No Place for Children: Child Recruitment Forced Marriage and Attacks in Schools in Somalia, 2012
- UNFPA, Child Marriage Country Profile: Somalia, 2012
- Rashid Nunne, Forced Marriage a Way of Life in Somali Culture, Somalia Report 28 May 2011