Child marriage by 15
Child marriage by 18
Other key stats
|Are there Girls Not Brides members?||3|
|Does this country have a national strategy or plan?||Yes|
|Is there a Girls Not Brides National Partnership or coalition?||No|
|Age of marriage without consent or exceptions taken into account||Minimum legal age of marriage below 18 years|
What's the prevalence rate?
Almost one in five girls in Cambodia are married before their 18th birthday and 2% are married before the age of 15.
4% of boys in Cambodia are married before their 18th Birthday.
Child marriage is most prevalent in rural, remote areas with high ethnic minority populations, including the Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri provinces.
What drives child marriage in Cambodia?
Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys.
In Cambodia, child marriage is also driven by:
Gender norms: Chbab srey (a traditional code of conduct) teaches that girls should remain pure “like cotton wool”, and the role of girls in seen to be that of housekeeper, reproducer and wife, and encourages the early marriage of girls to fulfil such roles.
Traditional harmful practices: Cambodian parents typically arrange the marriage of their children before they have reached the age of 18. The spousal selection process can be a long process of negotiation between families and there is a preference for young brides. In addition, children are traditionally compelled to show gratitude to their parents, so daughters will oblige to a marriage as way of showing such gratitude.
Level of education: 2016 UNICEF data shows that one in three girls aged 15-19 who have never attended school have started to bear children, which often leads to child marriage. Rates are higher among ethnic minorities and in rural
Poverty: Damage caused by illegal logging, land grabbing and economic land concessions forces many children to drop out of school and work in order to support their families. This places girls at a higher risk of marrying young as a survival strategy.
Trafficking: Many young girls who travel across provinces or into China with the false promise of employment are then forced into marriage.
What international, regional and national commitments has Cambodia made?
Cambodia has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. In its Voluntary National Review, the government of Cambodia did not provide an update on progress towards this target at the 2019 High Level Political Forum.
Cambodia co-sponsored the 2014 UN General Assembly resolution and the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage.
In 1992 Cambodia acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.
In 2019, the CEDAW Committee expressed concerns about the high prevalence of child marriage among indigenous and rural communities, and regretted the lack of measures adopted by the government outside of Ratanakiri Province.
During its Universal Periodic Review in 2019, Cambodia agreed to examine recommendations on enforcing the legal age for marriage and promoting awareness-raising campaigns to prevent child marriage.
Cambodia 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 child marriage.
Cambodia is a Pathfinder country for the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and partner country of the Global Partnership for Education.
What is the government doing to address child marriage?
The Ministry of Women’s Affairs, with the support of UNICEF Cambodia, launched in 2018 the Provincial Action Plan on Ending Child Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy (2017–2021) in Ratanakiri Province.
The Action Plan focuses on increasing prevention and response interventions to early marriages and premature pregnancies among the ethnic minority population. It also aims at improving multi-sectoral coordination and cooperation, and developing a data collection, monitoring and evaluation system. The action plan aims to target a least 30% of adolescents (aged 10 to 19) and youth aged (aged 15 to 35) in the province.
The Action Plan to Prevent and Respond to Violence Against Children (2017-2021) recognises child marriage as a form of violence against children, particularly girls. It contains objectives to strengthen the capacities of community programmes and religious centres to prevent, identify, and respond to cases of violence against children, including child marriage.
The Neary Rattanak IV strategy (2014-2018), a five year strategic plan for gender equality and women’s empowerment, led by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, identified child marriage as a key barrier to strengthening education for girls. In 2019, Cambodia reported to be developing the Neary Ratanak V strategy for 2019-2023.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
Under the Civil Code 2007 the minimum age of marriage is 18 years for girls and boys.
However, individuals can be married at 16 years to someone who has reached the age of majority with the consent of their parents or guardians. The Civil Code also allows marriage of minors with consent of the parents in the case of pregnancy even when both the boy and girl are under 18.
Sometimes parents or husbands bribe local authorities to forge a girl’s date of birth to enable her to marry underage.
We have 3 members in Cambodia
Content featuring Cambodia
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