Child marriage by 15
Child marriage by 18
|Are there Girls Not Brides members?||2|
|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||Minimum legal age of marriage below 18 years|
What's the prevalence rate?
Child, Early, and Forced Marriage and Unions (CEFMU) is more common in rural areas of Colombia, where 40% of girls are married before the age of 18.
7% of boys in Colombia are married or in a union before the age of 18.
In Colombia, CEFMU predominantly takes the form of an informal union, rather than a formal marriage.
What drives child marriage in Colombia?
Child, Early, and Forced Marriage and Unions (CEFMU) are driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys.
In Colombia CEFMU is exacerbated by:
Ethnicity: According to UNICEF, child marriage and early unions in Colombia aremore prevalent among Indigenous and Black/Afro-Colombian communities. It is estimated that 35% of indigenous girls between the ages of 20 to 24 years were married before the age of 18, 27% of girls of Black/Afro-Colombian ethnicity and 16% of Raizal San Andres.
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 CEFMU. While gender inequality is a root cause of CEFMU in both stable and crisis contexts, often in times of crisis, families see CEFMU as a way to cope with greater economic hardship and to protect girls from increased violence.
Despite peace agreements being reached between the Colombian Government and paramilitaries (2006) and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) leftist guerrilla group (2016) – the latter with close to 130 affirmative measures to promote equal rights for men and women – incomplete implementation and the continued presence of armed groups and illegal economies in the country means that Colombians continue to suffer the humanitarian consequences of violent conflict, particularly in Antioquia, Cauca, Caquetá, Chocó, Guaviare, Meta, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Putumayo and Valle del Cacua regions. With 7.7 million internally displaced people (in addition to 1.7 Venezuelan refugees, of which 404,000 were children), conflict-affected populations face restrictions on access to basic needs. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs between 2019 - 2021, 122,954 people, including approximately 35,657 children were subjected to confinement and movement restrictions by Colombian armed forces. Forced displacement disproportionately impacted Afro-Colombian communities with an estimated 84,552 people, and 25,241 children who were victims of mass displacement. This unrest drives poverty, sexual violence, and killings of vulnerable children which is relatively well recorded. However, there is limited information about how the conflict, mass displacement and generalised violence may have contributed to CEFMU in Colombia.
What international, regional and national commitments has Colombia made?
Colombia has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. The government submitted a 2021 Voluntary National Review at the High Level Political Forum but there was no mention of child marriage.
In 2014, Colombia signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage. Colombia co-sponsored the 2018UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage.
Colombia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, 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 2019, the CEDAW Committee recommended that Colombia amend without further delay the Civil Code to remove the exceptions to the minimum age of marriage and ensure that the legal age of marriage is 18 for both girls and boys.
During Colombia’s 2018 Universal Periodic Review, concerns about exceptions to the legal minimum age for marriage, enabling 14-year-old girls to marry with parental consent, were reiterated by the UN Child Rights Committee. Colombia noted recommendations to stipulate 18 years as the minimum age of marriage.
Colombia, as a member of the Organization of American States (OAS), is bound to the Inter American System of Human Rights, which recognises the right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and calls governments to strengthen the response to address gender-based violence and discrimination, including early, forced and child marriage and unions from a perspective that respects evolving capacities and progressive autonomy.
Colombia ratified the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women(known as the Belém do Pará Convention) in 1996. In 2016, the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention (MESECVI)recommended State Parties review and reform laws and practices to increase the minimum age for marriage to 18 years for women and men.
Colombia, as a member of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), adopted the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Developmentin 2013, which recognises the need to address the high levels of adolescent pregnancy in the region as usually associated with the forced marriage of girls. In 2016, the Montevideo Strategy for Implementation of the Regional Gender Agendawas also approved by the ECLAC countries. This Agenda encompasses commitments made by the governments on women’s rights and autonomy, and gender equality, over the last 40 years in the Regional Conferences of Women in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Agenda reaffirms the right to a life free of all forms of violence, including forced marriage and cohabitation for girls and adolescents.
Colombia is one of the countries where UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women are working together under the Latin America and the Caribbean Joint Programme for a Region Free of Child Marriage and Early Unions (2018-2021) to: align national frameworks with international standards, empower girls, promote policies and services that address the drivers of child marriage and early unions and break the silence nationally and regionally.
In 2019, at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, the government of Colombia recalled its policy frameworks on ending violence against women and girls and their commitment to ending harmful practices in the country, including child marriage and early unions.
Colombia is a pathfinder country for the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.
What is the government doing to address child marriage?
In October 2019, as part of the Latin America and the Caribbean Joint Programme for a Region Free of Child Marriage and Early Unions (2018-2021), UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women and the Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF) organised a workshop on child marriage and early unions with a view to raising awareness about the harmful consequences of child marriage for girls.
The National Development Plan (2018-2022) includes policy objectives to promote children’s and adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health and rights, prevent adolescent pregnancy and address harmful practices including child marriage and early unions.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
Under the Civil Code 1974, the legal minimum age is 18 years. However, girls older than 14 years can enter into marriage when approval of their legal representatives is provided.
I am a person
I am a person
A story of resilience and hope on the journey to ending child marriage. Told in the words of Valeri, a Venezuelan girl who experienced abuse in her early union.
Child marriage in Latin America and the Caribbean
This brief by Girls Not Brides highlights what we know about child marriage in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Interventions to prevent child marriage among young people in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic review of the published and gray literature
The review of the literature looks at eleven high-quality and evaluated interventions and their impact on child marriage.
- Barometer Initiative, Peace Accords Matrix, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, UN Women, FDIM and Sweden, Gender Equality for Sustainable Peace. Second Report on the Monitoring of the Gender Perspective in the Implementation of the Colombian Peace Accord, 2019, http://peaceaccords.nd.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/012820-GENDER-REPORT-DIGITAL.pdf (accessed March 2020).
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- Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention (MESECVI), Hemispheric report on sexual violence and child pregnancy in the States Party to the Belém do Pará Convention, 2016, https://www.oas.org/es/mesecvi/docs/MESECVI-EmbarazoInfantil-EN.pdf (accessed March 2020).
- Fundación Ideas para la Paz, Las violencias de género en la transición: legados del conflicto armado y desafíos para la paz, 2019, http://www.ideaspaz.org/media/website/FIP_SerieLGBTI_Docu_estrategico.pdf (accessed March 2020).
- Gastón, C. M., et al., Child marriage among boys: a global overview of available data, Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, 14:3,p. 219-228, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1080/17450128.2019.1566584(accessed January 2020).
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- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014, http://fngeneve.um.dk/en/aboutus/statements/newsdisplaypage/?newsid=6371ad93-8fb0-4c35-b186-820fa996d379 (accessed March 2020)
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- Organization of American States (OAS), Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women ("Convention of Belem do Pará"), 9 June 1994, https://www.oas.org/es/mesecvi/convencion.asp (accessed March 2020).
- http://centrodememoriahistorica.gov.co/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/la-guerra-inscrita-en-el-cuerpo.pdf(accessed March 2020).
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