Child marriage by 15
Child marriage by 18
|Are there Girls Not Brides members?||1|
|Does this country have a national strategy or plan?||Developing|
|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?
13% of girls in Kyrgyzstan are married before their 18th birthday.
Child marriage in Kyrgyzstan is most prevalent in rural areas with 16% of women between the ages of 20-24 married before the age of 18 and 9% in urban areas. In rural areas, prevalence rates are highest in Talas (18%), Chui (17%), Naryn (17%), Jalal-Abad (15%), Issyk-Kul and Batken (15%) and Osh (15%).
The spousal age difference for women between the ages of 15-19 whose husband was 0-4 years older was 36% in urban areas and 61% in rural areas; for 5-9 years older 57% in urban areas and 36% in rural areas; for husbands who were 10 or more years older, 2% in urban areas and 3% in rural areas.
What drives child marriage in Kyrgyzstan?
Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys.
In Kyrgyzstan, child marriage is also driven by:
Harmful practices: Ala Kachuu, while outlawed in 2013, is bride kidnapping and is widely tolerated in Kyrgyzstan. In 2018, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that in the last five years, there were 895 cases of bride kidnapping. Local NGOs estimate that almost 12,000 women and girls are abducted for marriage annually. This leaves girls in a particularly isolated and vulnerable position, often unable to access support. Many times, the families of the victims are reluctant to allow them to return home due to the perceived shame for the family. Socially, it is believed that this practice takes place as men are unable to afford to pay the bridal price.
Family honour: Some families marry off their daughters in order shield them from pre-marital sex and “set them up for life”.
Ethnicity: Child marriage is reportedly widely practiced among Uzbeks, Dungans, Turks, Tajiks and Central Asian Lyuli people, primarily driven by traditional customs and attitudes. Child marriage is most prevalent amongst the Uzbek community with 16% of women between the ages of 20-24 married before the age of 18, 10% Russian and 13% Kyrgyz and 21% other ethnicity.
Religion: Mullahs reportedly still conduct nikah (“marriage” in Islamic law) religious ceremonies for girls under the age of 18. These marriages are rarely registered officially and are difficult to track.
Armed conflict: Child marriage as a result of rape reportedly increased following ethnic clashes in Osh and Jalalabad in the south of the country in 2010.
What international, regional and national commitments has Kyrgyzstan made?
Kyrgyzstan 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 2020 Voluntary National Review at the High Level Political Forum. In this review, the government noted that there had been an increase by 27% in the number of convictions for forced marriage and marriage by abduction. Over 20% of marriages are by bride kidnapping and 6% are forced. Women living in rural areas are twice as likely to be abducted for marriage than those living in urban areas.
Kyrgyzstan acceded to 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 1997, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.
In 2018, the CEDAW Committee led an inquiry into Kyrgyzstan’s failure to prevent, protect and assist victims, as well as to prosecute and adequately punish perpetrators of bride kidnapping as a form of child and forced marriage. Among other recommendations, the Committee urgently called Kyrgyzstan to:
Exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate, punish and provide reparations for all crimes of bride kidnapping.
Provide mandatory and effective capacity-building for law enforcement personnel.
Remove the barriers to access justice faced by women and girls who are victims of bride kidnapping.
Effectively implement preventive measures to change the underlying causes of bride kidnapping.
During its 2015 Universal Periodic Review, concerns were raised about the persistence of child marriage and bride kidnapping. Kyrgyzstan supported recommendations to introduce more effective policies to combat child marriage and to strengthen public campaigns and awareness-raising on the unacceptability of the practice.
Kyrgyzstan is a pathfinding country of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).
What is the government doing to address child marriage?
The National Federation of Women’s Communities of Kyrgyzstan (NFFCK) is a local NGO that aims to raise awareness on child marriage and gender discrimination in Kyrgyzstan. NFFCK was provided a grant by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women which allowed them to pilot an educational programme, Education Girls Through Education, Art and Media, in three villages. Since 2016, NFFCK has educated 12,000 girls on their rights, 1,600 girls on consultations on bride kidnapping and child marriage and provided 500 girls with practical support.
In December 2017, a Plan for the implementation of the Preventing Early Marriage Act was approved by eight Government agencies. Since then, the government has reportedly implemented various awareness raising activities on the negative consequences and unlawful nature of bride kidnapping and early marriage.
With the support of UNDP and the Defenders of the Rights of the Child, a non-governmental foundation, the government has also trained representatives of law enforcement bodies, education, social protection and health authorities, among others, on the prevention of child marriages.
Despite these recent efforts, in 2018 the CEDAW Committee found that Kyrgyzstan had committed grave violations for systematically failing to enforce existing laws and protect a significant number of women and girls from bride kidnapping, child and forced marriage.
There is a growing civil society movement organising to raise awareness and prevent the practice of bride kidnapping.
Previously, the National Human Rights Programme, which ran from 2002-2010 and was approved by Presidential decree, aimed to upgrade mechanisms for monitoring enforcement of laws related to coercion into child marriage.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
Under Article 14 of the Family Code 2005 the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years. However, if there is a good reason, the local government may reduce the marriage age by one year on the basis of an approval from the Commission on Family and Child Support Department.
Under Article 13(1) of the Family Code, there must be mutual consent between a man and a woman who have attained the legal minimum age of marriage to enter into a marriage.
The 2013 parliamentary approval of Article 155 of the Criminal Code, criminalises the abduction of a girl or woman for forced marriage.
Child marriage in Kyrgyzstan (overview)
This fact sheet provides background information and statistics on child marriage in Kyrgyzstan. It also makes recommendations to address the practice.
Entre nous, the European magazine for sexual and reproductive health: child marriage
28 page magazine containing the following articles:
- Borgen Project, Ending child marriage in Kyrgyzstan, 2020, https://borgenproject.org/child-marriage-in-kyrgyzstan/ (accessed October 2021).
- Global Partnership for Education (GPE), Kyrgyzstan, [website], https://www.globalpartnership.org/where-we-work/kyrgyz-republic (accessed March 2020).
- Government of the Kyrgyz Republic and Ministry of Economy of the Kyrgyz Republic, Voluntary National Review on the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Kyrgyz Republic, 2020, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/26459VNR_2020_Kyrgyzstan_Report_English.pdf (accessed October 2021).
- Human Rights Watch, Kyrgyzstan Ups Fight Against Child Marriage, [website], 2016, https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/11/21/kyrgyzstan-ups-fight-against-child-marriage (accessed March 2020).
- Ibrahim, B, Ala Kachuu , Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan, 2018, https://restlessbeings.org/articles/ala-kachuu-bride-kidnapping-in-kyrgyzstan, (accessed October 2021).
- National Statistical Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic and UNICEF, Kyrgyzstan Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2018, Survey Findings Report, May 2019 https://mics-surveys-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/MICS6/Europe%20and%20Central%20Asia/Kyrgyzstan/2018/Survey%20findings/Kyrgyzstan%20MICS%202018_English.pdf (accessed September 2020).
- UN CEDAW, Fifth periodic report submitted by Kyrgyzstan under article 18 of the Convention, due in 2019, 2019, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CEDAW%2fC%2fKGZ%2f5&Lang=en (accessed March 2020).
- UN CEDAW, Inquiry concerning Kyrgyzstan under article 8 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 2018, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CEDAW%2fC%2fOP.8%2fKGZ%2f1&Lang=en (accessed March 2020).
- UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Kyrgyzstan,2015, p.7, p.18, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/KGindex.aspx (accessed March 2020).
- UN Women, New law in Kyrgyzstan toughens penalties for bride kidnapping, [website], 2013, http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2013/2/new-law-in-kyrgyzstan-toughens-penalties-for-bride-kidnapping (accessed March 2020).
- UNFPA, Child marriage in Kyrgyzstan (Overview), 2014, https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/UNFPA-Child-Marriage-in-Kyrgyzstan-2014.pdf (accessed March 2020).
- UNFPA, Overview of Child Marriage in Kyrgyzstan, 2014, https://eeca.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/unfpa%20kyrgyzstan%20overview.pdf (accessed October 2021).
- UNFPA, UNICEF and USAID, Kyrgyz Republic Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2018, 2018, https://mics-surveys-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/MICS6/Europe%20and%20Central%20Asia/Kyrgyzstan/2018/Survey%20findings/Kyrgyzstan%20MICS%202018_English.pdf (accessed October 2021).
- UNICEF, The State of the World's Children 2021, 2021, https://www.unicef.org/media/108161/file/SOWC-2021-full-report-English.pdf (accessed November 2021).
- United States Department of State, 2020 country reports on human rights practices: Kyrgyz Republic, 2021, https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/kyrgyzstan/ (accessed October 2021).
- United Nation Kyrgyz Republic, A law on prohibition of child marriages is entering in its active phase of implementation, [website], 2018, https://kyrgyzstan.un.org/en/12868-law-prohibition-child-marriages-entering-its-active-phase-implementation (accessed March 2020).
- United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg5 (accessed March 2020).
- UN General Assembly, Compilation on Kyrgyzstan report of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2019, https://undocs.org/A/HRC/WG.6/35/KGZ/2 (accessed October 2021).
- UN General Assembly, National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 16/21* Kyrgyzstan, 2020, https://undocs.org/A/HRC/WG.6/35/KGZ/1 (accessed October 2021).
- VOA News, Kyrgyzstan Women Fight to End Bride Kidnapping, [website], 2019, https://www.voanews.com/south-central-asia/kyrgyzstan-women-fight-end-bride-kidnapping (accessed March 2020).