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State of Palestine

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
1%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
15%

* 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
1%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
15%

* 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?

15% of Palestinian girls are married before the age of 18 and 1% are married before their 15th birthday.

Child marriage is most common in urban and camp areas rather than rural areas, which contradicts global trends. Rates are highest in North Gaza, Gaza, Hebron and Jerusalem.

Government data shows that child marriage disproportionately affects girls, with 43% of registered marriages involving a brides aged 14-19, and just 0.01% of registered marriages involving a groom within this age group. This data does not capture informal or unregistered marriages.

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 Palestine, child marriage is also driven by:

  • Armed conflict: Following 2014 hostilities in Gaza, women and girls suffered large scale displacement and moved to overcrowded camps. Increasing numbers of young girls were married off as a coping mechanism due to financial and physical insecurity. This is particularly common among families with multiple daughters where their perceived burden can be higher.
  • Traditional customs: Child marriage is sometimes associated with preserving family honour, and some Palestinian families reportedly work with clerics to officiate underage marriages.
  • Violence against Girls: The Jordanian Penal Code enables perpetrators of sexual violence to escape prosecution if they marry their victims, which is sometimes seen as more preferable than a girl damaging her honour. In 2017 the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women highlighted increased pressure on Palestinian girls to marry perpetrators in order to cover up rape and incest.
  • Displacement: UN Women reports that child marriage in occupied East Jerusalem is driven by poverty, constant uprooting and the oppression of girls.
  • Level of education: Palestinian girls with the lowest level of education are at the highest risk of marrying young.

What has this country committed to?

Palestine has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals and mentioned some of the safety nets the state is providing for abused women in its 2018 Voluntary National Review at the High Level Political Forum, the mechanism through which governments report on progress implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Palestine co-sponsored the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage.

Palestine acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2014, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2014, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

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

There has reportedly been a lack of agreement between Palestinian line ministries and UN agencies on which priority actions should be taken to address child marriage at the national level.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

The legal framework in Palestine is complex and has multiple sources including Egyptian and Jordanian law, British Mandate law, Israeli law and Sharia law. Therefore it is difficult to obtain accurate information regarding the legal age of marriage in the country for girls and boys.

From the information available, in the West Bank, the minimum age of marriage is 15 for girls and 16 for boys. In Gaza the minimum age is 17 for girls and 18 for boys.

Source

Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, on her mission to the Occupied Palestinian Territory/State of Palestine, 2017, [unpublished]

Jerusalem Institute of Justice, Women’s Rights Violations in the West Bank and Gaza, 2016, (accessed March 2018)

Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Marriages Registered in Palestine by Age of Groom and Bride – 2014, [website], 2017, (accessed March 2018)

Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, UNICEF and UNFPA, Palestinian Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2014, 2015, (accessed March 2018)

UNFPA, Evaluation of UNFPA Support to the Prevention, Response to and Elimination of Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices, 2012-2017, Palestine Case Study, 2017, (accessed March 2018)

UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Girls Not Brides: Ending Child Marriage in Gaza, [website], 2017, (accessed March 2018)

UN Women, In the Absence of Justice: Embodiment and the Politics of Militarized Dismemberment in Occupied East Jerusalem, 2016, (accessed March 2018)

UN Women, Restricted Lives: Women’s Voices Under Blockade in Gaza, 2017, (accessed March 2018)

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

Members In State of Palestine