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Viet Nam

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
1%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
11%

* 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)

Photo credit: Plan International.

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
1%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
11%

* 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?

11% of girls in Viet Nam are married before their 18th birthday and 1% are married before the age of 15.

Child marriage is most prevalent in the Northern Midlands and Mountainous Areas (where 19% of women aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18), the Central Highlands (16%) and the Mekong River Delta (14%).

Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys. In Viet Nam, child marriage is also driven by:

  • Level of education: 33% of women with no education were married before the age of 18, compared to only 1% who had completed tertiary education. A 2016 Young Lives study shows that being enrolled in school can decrease the likelihood of a young girl from a poor, rural, ethnic minority area getting married by 47%.
  • Traditional customs: At the community level, traditional and customary law still enables young girls to marry with the consent of parents and other authorities.
  • Pre-marital sex: Some girls reportedly marry because they are afraid of getting pregnant outside of marriage and transgressing from strict Vietnamese social norms.
  • Poverty: Girls from Vietnam’s poorest households are more likely to marry before the age of 18 than those from the richest households. Daughters are commonly married off as an economic survival strategy for poorer families.
  • Kidnapping: Known as hai pu, some girls are taken from their homes and forcibly married. This is particularly prevalent among Hmong communities.
  • Gender norms: A 2016 study shows that girls who have mothers with little decision-making power are more at risk of marrying early.

What has this country committed to?

Viet Nam has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Viet Nam reported progress made to address child marriage through its Annual Plan to Minimise Teen Marriage and Consanguineous Marriage in Ethnic Minorities in its 2018 National Voluntary Review at the High Level Political Forum, the main mechanism through which countries report progress on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Viet Nam co-sponsored the 2015 Human Rights Council resolution to end child, early and forced marriage, recognising that it is a violation of human rights.

Viet Nam 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.

Viet Nam ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1982, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

In 2015, the CEDAW Committee raised concerns about the prevalence of harmful practices such as child marriage in Viet Nam, and that the legal age for marriage is lower for women than men.

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

In June 2017 the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs and UN agencies held a National Conference on Preventing and Ending Child and Early Marriage to explore effective strategies and best practice.

In 2015 the Prime Minister of Viet Nam approved the “Reduction of Early and Inter-Family Marriage in Ethnic Minorities in the Period 2015-2025” project.

A 2015 report notes that, whilst public campaigns on the prevention of child marriage have been widely conducted in Viet Nam, these need to be more ‘target-group oriented’ and there need to be more mechanisms available to support individuals at risk.

In 2016 an official from the National Committee for Ethnic Minorities said that the government should extend services to tackle child marriage, including reproductive health education, in native languages.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Family and Marriage Law 2000 the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years for girls and 20 years for boys with no exceptions.

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, http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Women/WG/ASEANdeclarationVaW_violenceagainstchildren.pdf (accessed February 2018)

Gender and Community Development Network, Domestic Violence Prevention Network and Network for Empowerment of Women, Report on the Implementation of CEDAW in Vietnam 2007-2015, 2015, http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CEDAW/Shared%20Documents/VNM/INT_CEDAW_NGO_VNM_20849_E.pdf (accessed February 2018)

UNFPA, Ending child marriage: towards a world where girls are free to dream, 2016, http://vietnam.unfpa.org/en/news/ending-child-marriage-towards-world-where-girls-are-free-dream (accessed February 2018)

UNICEF, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey: Vietnam, 2014, https://mics-surveys-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/MICS5/East%20Asia%20and%20the%20Pacific/Viet%20Nam/2013-2014/Final/Viet%20Nam%202013-14%20MICS_English.pdf (accessed February 2018)

UN CEDAW, Concluding observations on the combined seventh and eighth periodic reports of Viet Nam, 2015, p.5, http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CEDAW/C/VNM/CO/7-8&Lang=En (accessed June 2018)

United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg5 (accessed February 2018)

Voice of Vietnam, National conference addresses child, early marriage, [website], 2017,
http://english.vov.vn/society/national-conference-addresses-child-early-marriage-352703.vov (accessed May 2018)

VN Express, Child marriage persists in Vietnam’s ethnic minority communities, [website], 2016,
https://e.vnexpress.net/news/news/child-marriage-persists-in-vietnam-s-ethnic-minority-communities-3489572.html (accessed April 2018)

Young Lives, Addressing the Risk Factors for Early Marriage in Viet Nam, 2016, https://www.younglives.org.uk/sites/www.younglives.org.uk/files/YL-VIETNAM-PB3_Risk%20factors%20for%20early%20marriage.pdf (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)