Central African Republic
Child marriage by 15
Child marriage by 18
Other key stats
|Are there Girls Not Brides members?||No|
|Does this country have a national strategy or plan?||No|
|Is there a Girls Not Brides National Partnership or coalition?||No|
|Age of marriage without consent or exceptions taken into account||No minimum legal age of marriage (all exceptions taken into account)|
What's the prevalence rate?
68% of girls in Central African Republic are married before the age of 18 and 29% are married before the age of 15.
CAR has the second highest prevalence of child marriage globally.
28% of boys in Central African Republic are married before the age of 18. This makes Central African Republic the country in the world with the highest prevalence of child marriage among boys.
Child marriage is most prevalent in Ouaka, Basse Kotto and Nana Mambéré and Kémo, and among the Haoussa, Banda and Yakoma-Sango ethnic groups.
Unlike global trends, household wealth and level of education does not significantly affect child marriage rates in Central African Republic, which has seen one of the slowest declines in child marriage rates in West and Central Africa.
What drives child marriage in Central African Republic?
Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys.
In Central African Republic, child marriage is exacerbated by:
Poverty: Central African Republic has one of the lowest GDP in the world. With high poverty rates, many families marry off their daughters in exchange for bride price and to reduce the perceived financial burden a girl places on her family.
Gender norms: According to UNESCO, less than a quarter of the female adult population in Central African Republic can read and write. Girls’ rights are often neglected and their only expectation is to get married and have children.
Power dynamics: Under the country’s legal code, men can take up to four wives. Younger wives are seen to increase the social status bestowed on a family.
Religion: Child marriage is reportedly more common among Muslim communities.
Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C):24% of girls and women aged 15-49 have experienced FGM/C. This is often used to control female sexuality and is regarded as a sign of readiness for marriage.
Humanitarian settings can encompass a wide range of situations before, during, and after natural disasters, conflicts, and epidemics. They exacerbate poverty, insecurity, and lack of access to services such as education, factors which all drive child marriage. In the case of CAR, since the conflict started in 2013, the violence between armed groups and against civilians has forced thousands of people to flee. At the end of 2019, a quarter of the CAR population (1.2 million people out of 4.7 million) was either internally displaced or living as a refugee in neighbouring countries.
Armed conflict: The conflict has exacerbated child marriage cases. Families often see marriage as a way of protecting daughters from sexual violence during times of insecurity. Some girls have been forcibly kidnapped and married off to ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka members. Orphans are particularly vulnerable to child marriage. The closure of schools due to insecurity also increases the risk of being married off.
Displacement: Some refugees from Central African Republic have been forced into marriage upon arrival in eastern Cameroon. Many families live in cramped, under-resourced conditions and some marry off their daughters in exchange for money. In 2016, UNICEF estimated that more than 90,000 child refugees in Cameroon were out of school and vulnerable to sexual abuse and child marriage.
What international, regional and national commitments has Central African Republic made?
Central African Republic 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 2018 High Level Political Forum.
Central African Republic co-sponsored the 2013, 2014 and 2018 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage, and signed a joint statement at the 2014 Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.
Central African Republic ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and acceded to 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.
During its 2017 review, the UN Child Rights Committee expressed concern that, under customary practices, girls as young as 16 can marry with parental consent. It also raised concerns about Article 105 of the 1997 Family Code, which enables kidnappers to marry girls and leaves child brides with little legal protection.
During its 2018 Universal Periodic Review, CAR agreed to review recommendations to set the minimum age of marriage to 18 years for both men and women, increase efforts in favour of gender equality and end all forms of discrimination and violence against women, including early and forced marriage, and establish a warning mechanism to combat early marriages.
In 2003 Central African Republic signed, but has not yet ratified, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, including Article 21 regarding the prohibition of child marriage.
In 2008 Central African Republic signed, but has not yet ratified, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, including Article 6 which sets the minimum age for marriage as 18.
Central African Republic is a partner country of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).
What is the government doing to address child marriage?
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
Under the Family Code 1998 the minimum age of marriage is 18 years.
However individuals can marry under the age of 18 with parental consent or if a state prosecutor dispenses with the age requirement based on serious grounds.
Content featuring Central African Republic
The Dakar Call to Action
The Dakar Call to Action was adopted at the West & Central Africa High-Level Meeting in Dakar from 23-25 October 2017. It calls on governments to address child marriage.
Child marriage in West & Central Africa
This brief provides an overview of child marriage in West and Central Africa and includes recommendations on how to address it.
Interagency gender-based violence case management guidelines in humanitarian settings
These guidelines aim to provide standards for good practice to ensure gender-based violence survivors receive quality care in humanitarian settings.
Child marriage, adolescent pregnancy and family formation in West and Central Africa: patterns, trends and drivers of change
This study analyses the levels, trends and relationships between child marriage, adolescent pregnancy and family formation across West and Central Africa.
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