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The Netherlands

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 the Netherlands.

In 2016, the Netherlands was named one of the top ten best countries to be a girl by Save the Children. The index uses a range of indicators, including child marriage, lower secondary school completion, female political participation, adolescent fertility and maternal mortality.

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 the Netherlands.

A 2016 study showed that about 250 girls entered into civil marriages there between 2013 and 2014. However, figures for religious marriages are unclear.

Child marriage cases are expected to increase in the Netherlands due to marriages between those seeking asylum following the 2015 migrant crisis in Europe.

What has this country committed to?

The Netherlands has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. During its Voluntary National Review at the 2017 High Level Political Forum, the government highlighted its support of international efforts to end all forms of forced marriage.

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

The Netherlands co-sponsored the 2013, 2014 and 2016 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage, and co-sponsored the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage. In 2014, the Netherlands signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.

The Netherlands acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1995, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1991, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

At the Girl Summit in July 2014, the government signed a charter committing to end child marriage by 2020.

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

The Netherlands is a global champion of preventing and combatting child marriage and has provided an estimated €97.5 million in funding efforts in the past five years. This includes €20 million to the UNICEF-UNFPA Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage, a multi-donor, multi-stakeholder programme working across 12 countries over four years.

The Netherlands has contributed €4.8 million to the AmplifyChange fund, which addresses a broader range of sexual and reproductive health and gender issues that are associated with child marriage.

It has also worked with Girls Not Brides to influence other key funders to recognise the importance of eliminating child marriage. In November 2016, Girls Not Brides Netherlands launched the 8th Girls Not Brides National Partnership to encourage and build on these efforts. In 2017, it organised an event to discuss the current status of child marriage in the Netherlands and presented case studies to the Minister of Justice and Security.

In 2015, the government invested €215 million in seven civil society organisations working on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Three of these specifically focus on ending child marriage:

More Than Brides Alliance
Yes, I Do Alliance
Her Choice Alliance.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Civil Code Book 1, Persons and Family Law 2012 the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years.

However individuals may marry before 18 years for serious reason with the permission of the Minister of Justice and with parental consent.

Source

BBC News, Migrant crisis: Dutch alarm of child brides from Syria, [website], 2015, (accessed March 2018)

Kingdom of the Netherlands, Report on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, 2017, (accessed April 2018)

Maastrich University, Just Married, 2016, (accessed March 2018)

Save the Children, Which are the best and worst countries to be a girl?, [website], 2016, (accessed March 2018)

UNICEF-UNFPA, Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage, 2017, (accessed February 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)

National Partnership in The Netherlands

Girls Not Brides Netherlands became an official National Partnership in November 2016.

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