Child marriage by 15
Child marriage by 18
|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||Minimum legal age of marriage below 18 years|
What's the prevalence rate?
7% of girls in Kazakhstan are married before their 18th birthday.
Child marriage is most prevalent in Zhambyl, Pavlodar and North Kazakhstan, where 11% of women aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18.
Reliable statistics are only available for formally registered marriages and do not include informal or religious unions that take place.
What drives child marriage in Kazakhstan?
Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys.
In Kazakhstan, child marriage is also driven by:
Poverty: Girls in Kazakhstan’s poorest households are twice more likely to marry before the age of 18 than those in the richest households.
Ethnicity: Child marriages are more common among Russian and other minority groups rather than majority Kazakhs. This is often due to less awareness on sexual and reproductive health and more tolerant attitudes towards pre-marital sex, cohabitation and informal unions.
Power dynamics: 40% of currently married 15-19 year old girls have a spouse who is between five and nine years older than them, suggesting a high value placed on young girls.
Gender norms: In districts with high ethnic minority communities, including Turks, Uighurs and Dungans, stereotypes regarding women’s subordinate status and the practice of bride price drive some families to marry off their daughters.
Bride kidnapping: Despite being prohibited by law, bride kidnapping and forced marriages are prevalent in Kazakhstan. In December 2019, in Turkestan, a 20 year old girl was kidnapped by three men. She was taken to the village of Kentau where she was forced to marry a man she did not know. Upon refusing to marry him she was raped and physically assaulted. The investigation was completed in January 2020 and two men were convicted and sentenced for eight years in prison.
What international, regional and national commitments has Kazakhstan made?
Kazakhstan has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. The government has not submitted a Voluntary National Review in any High Level Political Forum to date.
Kazakhstan co-sponsored the 2013 and 2014 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.
Kazakhstan ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994, 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 1998, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.
During its 2019 review, the CEDAW Committee expressed concerns about the high prevalence of child marriage, especially unregistered religious marriages, and bride kidnapping. The Committee recommended Kazakhstan to intensify its efforts to prevent and eliminate these practices, ban the religious registration of marriages of girls under the age of 18 years, and strengthen awareness-raising campaigns.
During its 2019 Universal Periodic Review, Kazakhstan agreed to review recommendations to strengthen their efforts to protect children from all forms of violence, including sexual violence and child, early and forced marriage.
During its 2014 Universal Periodic Review, Kazakhstan supported recommendations to address child marriage by encouraging girls to continue education beyond secondary level and establishing laws to eliminate the practice.
What is the government doing to address child marriage?
The National Commission for Women, Family and Demographic Policy are have expressed interest and are discussing integrating and harmonising into legislation the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) also known as the Istanbul Convention. A Working Group has begun to consider drafting a new law that combats violence against women in Kazakhstan.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
Under the Marriage and Family Code 2011, the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years and both the woman and man must voluntarily provide consent Under Article 10 of the Family Code, the legal minimum age may be reduced to 16 years old in cases of pregnancy or mutual agreement by parents/guardians.
- Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of Kazakhstan, 2019, p. 16 https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CEDAW%2fC%2fKAZ%2fCO%2f5&Lang=en (accessed March 2020).
- Human Rights Watch, Kazakhstan’s domestic violence survivors push for legal protections, 2020, https://www.hrw.org/node/377501/printable/print (accessed October 2021).
- 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).
- The Statistics Committee of the Ministry of National Economy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2015 Kazakhstan Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, Final Report, 2016, https://mics-surveys-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/MICS5/Europe%20and%20Central%20Asia/Kazakhstan/2015/Final/Kazakhstan%202015%20MICS_English.pdf (accessed March 2020).
- UNFPA, Child marriage in Kazakhstan(Overview), 2014, http://eeca.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/unfpa%20kazakhstan%20overview.pdf (accessed March 2020).
- UNFPA, Child Marriage in Kazakhstan (Overview), 2012, https://eeca.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/unfpa%20kazakhstan%20overview.pdf (accessed October 2021).
- UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Kazakhstan, 2014, p.16, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/KZindex.aspx (accessed March 2020).
- UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Kazakhstan, 2019, p. 23, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/KZindex.aspx (accessed March 2020).
- UN Women, Press release: Kazakhstan moves closer to strengthening its laws and policies to combat violence against women, 2020, https://eca.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2020/12/press-release-kazakhstan-moves-closer-to-strengthening-its-laws-and-policies (accessed October 2021).
- United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg5 (accessed March 2020).
- United States Department of State, 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Kazakhstan, 2021, https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/kazakhstan/ (accessed October 2021).