Sao Tome and Principe
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||Minimum legal age of marriage below 18 years|
What's the prevalence rate?
35% of girls in Sao Tome and Principe are married before the age of 18 and 8% are married before their 15th birthday.
3% of boys in Sao Tome and Principe are married before the age of 18
Child marriage is most prevalent in the east (where 43% of women aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18) and south-east of the country (42%).
What drives child marriage in Sao Tome and Principe?
Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys.
In Sao Tome and Principe, child marriage is also driven by:
Poverty: 44% of women from Sao Tome and Principe’s poorest households were married before the age of 18, compared to only 16% of women from the richest households.
Level of education:46% of women who held no education were married as children, compared to only 6% who held higher education.
Power dynamics:23% of currently married 15-19 year old girls have a spouse who is 10 or more years older than them. This indicates that some men prefer to marry younger girls, who often lack the power to negotiate decisions around marriage.
What international, regional and national commitments has Sao Tome and Principe made?
Sao Tome and Principe has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Sao Tome and Principe co-sponsored the 2013 and 2018 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage. Sao Tome and Principe also signed a joint statement at the 2014 Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.
Sao Tome and Principe acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2003, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.
During its 2013 review, the UN Child Rights Committee recommended that the government review rules regarding exceptions for marriage below the minimum age of 18, and accompany this with awareness-raising campaigns to prevent child marriage.
During its 2016 Universal Periodic Review, Sao Tome and Principe supported recommendations to increase the age of marriage to 18.
In 2019 Sao Tome and Principe ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, including Article 21 regarding the prohibition of child marriage. In 2019 Sao Tome and Principe 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.
Sao Tome and Principe is 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 Regula Juridicamente as instituicoes de familia 1977 the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years for girls and boys. In exceptional cases, and with parental, guardian or court consent, girls aged 14 years and boys aged 16 may marry.
Content featuring Sao Tome and Principe
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.
Girls' education and child marriage in West and Central Africa
The report documents girls’ educational attainment and child marriage in the region, factors that lead girls to marry or leave school early, and the impact on development.
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.
- African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, [website], 2018, https://www.achpr.org/legalinstruments/detail?id=46 (accessed January 2020).
- African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, [website], 2018, https://au.int/en/treaties/protocol-african-charter-human-and-peoples-rights-rights-women-africa (accessed January 2020).
- 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 January 2020).
- National Institute of Statistics, Sao Tome and Principe Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2014, Final Report, 2016, https://mics-surveys-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/MICS5/West%20and%20Central%20Africa/Sao%20Tome%20and%20Principe/2014/Final/Sao%20Tome%20and%20Principe%202014%20MICS_English.pdf (accessed January 2020).
- UN Child Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the combined second to fourth periodic reports of Sao Tome and Principe, adopted by the Committee at its sixty-fourth session (16 September–4 October 2013),2013, p.2, http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC/C/STP/CO/2-4&Lang=En (accessed January 2020).
- United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg5 (accessed February 2020).
- Global Partnership for Education, Sao Tome and Principe, [website], https://www.globalpartnership.org/where-we-work/sao-tome-and-principe (accessed February 2020).
- Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Sao Tome and Principe, A/HRC/31/17, 2016, 2016, p.22, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/STindex.aspx (accessed February 2020).