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.
* According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2017.
6% of girls in South Africa are married before the age of 18.
Legal age of marriage
The legal minimum age of marriage in South Africa is 18 years for boys, and 15 years for girls. Exceptions can be granted with the written permission of the Minister or any officer in the public service.
In March 2015, a man in South Africa appealed a 22-year sentence for rape, assault and human trafficking after he abducted a girl with her family’s consent. He claimed the traditional custom of “ukuthwala” – which is the practice of abducting girls for the purpose of marriage – as a defence. The Court decided that ukuthwala was abused to justify patently offensive behaviour such as rape, violence and similar criminal conduct under the guise of tradition.
Members In South Africa
- AIDS Accountability International
- Amref Health Africa
- Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
- Ibis Reproductive Health
- Organisation of African Youth
- Programme for the Well-being of children (PWC)
- Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI)
- Sonke Gender Justice Network
- VSO International
- UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2016