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Thailand

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
4%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
23%

* 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
4%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
23%

* 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?

23% of girls in Thailand are married before their 18th birthday and 4% are married before the age of 15.

According to UNICEF, Thailand has the 19th highest absolute number of child brides in the world – 543,000.

Child marriage is most common in the north and northeast of Thailand and in rural areas.

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 Thailand, child marriage is also driven by:
• Level of education: 32% of Thai women with no education were married before the age of 18, compared to only 3% who had completed higher education.
• Adolescent pregnancy: Adolescent pregnancy is a huge driver for child marriage in Thailand and is connected to a high unmet need for comprehensive sexuality education and family planning. Unlike in South Asia where an early marriage usually provides the means for socially sanctioned sex to then occur, with early pregnancy quickly following, unplanned pregnancy in Thailand often leads to early marriage or unions.
• Poverty: 30% of women in Thailand’s poorest households were married before 18, compared to 10% from the richest households. Many young girls are married off to ease their perceived financial burden on families.
• Traditional customs: Customary practices fuel child marriage in rural areas, where laws and regulations are less enforced or monitored. In these areas, young women take on household responsibilities from an early age and this is seen as a mark of their “readiness” for adulthood and marriage.
• Ethnicity: Child marriage particularly affects indigenous girls in Thailand, who generally face bigger barriers to accessing education, are financially disempowered and are often restricted from making decisions which affect their lives. Child marriage also disproportionately affects the Hmong ethnic group living in Thailand and Malay Muslim women in the South of the country, who are governed by customary practices and Islamic Family law which, in four border provinces, allow girls to marry as soon as they reach puberty.

What has this country committed to?

Thailand has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. The government did not provide an update on progress towards this target during its Voluntary National Review at the 2017 High Level Political Forum.

Thailand co-sponsored the 2017 Human Rights Council resolution recognising the need to address child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian contexts. In 2015, it co-sponsored the Human Rights Council resolution to end child, early and forced marriage, recognising that it is a violation of human rights.

Thailand co-sponsored the 2013 and 2014 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage, and the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage. In 2014, Thailand signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.

Thailand acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1985, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

Thailand has committed to the ASEAN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Violence against Children (2013), which acknowledges the importance of strengthening ASEAN efforts to protect children from all forms of violence, including early marriage.

During its 2016 Universal Periodic Review, Thailand supported recommendations to ensure the minimum age of marriage is 18 for both boys and girls.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand 1985 the minimum legal age of marriage is 20 years. However individuals are able to marry at 17 years or even before that with permission of the Court.

Source

ASEAN Commission on the Rights of Women and Children, The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Elimination of Violence against Children in ASEAN, 2013, (accessed February 2018)

Evette Rivera, The Implementation of the Rights of the Child; Transcending the Traditional Practice of Child Marriage in Niger, Yemen and Thailand, 2011, (accessed February 2018)

Indigenous Women’s Network of Thailand & Asia Indigenous People’s Pact, NGO CEDAW Shadow Report on Behalf of Indigenous Women in Thailand, For the 67th Session of CEDAW, 2017, (accessed February 2018)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014, (accessed April 2018)

National Statistical Office and UNICEF, Thailand Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2015-2016, Final Report, 2016, (accessed April 2018)

PATANI Working Group for the Monitoring of International Mechanisms, Joint CEDAW Shadow Report on the Situation of the Rights of Malay Muslim Women in Southern Thailand, 2017, (accessed February 2018)

UNFPA Asia and the Pacific, Addressing the patterns of child marriage, early union and teen pregnancy in Southeast Asia: A matter of urgency, [website], 2018, (accessed April 2018)

UNICEF, Thailand 14 Provinces Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2015-2016, 2017, (accessed February 2018)

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Thailand, 2016, p.21,  (accessed February 2018)

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

World Health Organisation, Child, early and forced marriage legislation in 37 Asia-Pacific countries, 2016,  (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 Thailand