Child marriage by 15
Child marriage by 18
|Are there Girls Not Brides members?||No|
|Does this country have a national strategy or plan?||Yes|
|Is there a Girls Not Brides National Partnership or coalition?||No|
|Age of marriage without consent or exceptions taken into account||Legal age of marriage - 18 years, no exceptions|
What's the prevalence rate?
According to 2005 DHS data, 3% of boys in Vietnam were married before the age of 18.
Child marriage is most prevalent in rural, mountainous and isolated areas, where a large number of ethnic minority people live: in the Northern Midlands and Mountainous Areas 19% of women aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18, 16% in the Central Highlands, and 14% in the Mekong River Delta.
What drives child marriage in Vietnam?
Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys.
In Vietnam, child marriage is exacerbated by:
Poverty: Girls from Vietnam’s poorest households are more likely to marry before the age of 18 than those from the richest households. Daughters are commonly married off as an economic survival strategy for poorer families. Higher poverty rates among ethnic minorities puts girls at higher risk of being married off early.
Level of education: 33% of women with no education were married before the age of 18, compared to only 1% who had completed tertiary education. A 2016 Young Lives study shows that being enrolled in school can decrease the likelihood of a young girl from a poor, rural, ethnic minority area getting married by 47%.
Harmful traditional practices: Vietnam has a long-standing traditional practice of parents arranging marriages for their children. At the community level, traditional and customary law still enables young girls to be married off with the consent of parents and other authorities. Although illegal, the practice of hai pu (bride kidnapping), with girls being taken from their homes and forcibly married, is particularly prevalent among Hmong communities. Social pressure and fear of becoming a “left over girl” also drive girls to marry early.
Pre-marital sex:Some girls reportedly marry because they are afraid of getting pregnant outside of marriage and transgressing strict Vietnamese social norms.
Gender norms:A2016 Young Livesstudy shows that girls who have mothers with little decision-making power are more at risk of marrying early.
Ethnicity: Child marriage is highly concentrated in mountainous areas, especially among ethnic minorities (namely the Hmong, Xinh Mun, La Ha, Gia Rai, Raglay, and Bru-Van Kieu) in the northern mountains, where it’s been reported that 50% to 60% of marriages involve minors.
What international, regional and national commitments has Vietnam made?
Vietnam has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Vietnam reported progress made to address child marriage through its Annual Plan to Minimise Teen Marriage and Consanguineous Marriage in Ethnic Minorities in its 2018 National Voluntary Review at the High Level Political Forum, the main mechanism through which countries report progress on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
Vietnam co-sponsored the 2015 Human Rights Council resolution to end child, early and forced marriage, recognising that it is a violation of human rights; and the 2018 and 2020 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage.
Vietnam has committed to the ASEAN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Violence against Children (2013), which acknowledges the importance of strengthening ASEAN efforts to protect children from all forms of violence, including early marriage.
Vietnam ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, 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 2015, the CEDAW Committee raised concerns about the prevalence of harmful practices such as child marriage in Vietnam, and that the legal age for marriage is lower for women than men.
During its 2019 Universal Periodic Review, Vietnam recognised difficulties to end child marriage among ethnic communities, and agreed to review recommendations to continue carrying out policies to prevent the practise and review the law on marriage and family with a view to setting the same minimum age for marriage for women and men.
In 2019, at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, Vietnam committed to intensify their efforts and provide sufficient funding towards ending sexual and gender-based violence, including zero child, early and forced marriage, through evidenced and human rights-based policies and guidelines.
Vietnam is one of the countries where the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)/DREAMS Initiative is working to reduce rates of HIV among adolescent girls and young women.
Vietnam is a partner country of the Global Partnership for Education.
What is the government doing to address child marriage?
UNFPA Vietnam called for an end to child marriage on Valentine’s Day in February 2022, as part of promotion of the “Enhancing awareness of ethnic minority children and young people on human trafficking and child marriage through digital technology” (EMPoWR) project that is co-funded by the Delegation of the European Union and Plan International in Belgium, and is a product of collaboration between many organisations: the Institute for Social Development Studies (ISDS), Plan International in Vietnam, the Department of Children under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, and other agencies and will eventually be rolled out in 52 communes across four provinces – Ha Giang, Lai Chau, Quang Binh and Quang Tri – between 2020 to 2023.
As part of thie EMPoWR project, a digital platform “EmVui” (“Be Happy”) designed to support children and young people from ethnic minorities was launched in September 2021, with an aim to help prevent child marriage and human trafficking.
In January 2018, Vietnam enacted a new Criminal Code which strengthened child protection, including more severe penalties for child marriage and trafficking.
In 2015 the Prime Minister of Vietnam approved the “Reduction of Early and Inter-Family Marriage in Ethnic Minorities in the Period 2015-2025” project. As part of this project, the Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs has conducted trainings with staff, elders and influential individuals.
In 2016 an official from the National Committee for Ethnic Minorities said that the government should extend services to tackle child marriage, including reproductive health education, in native languages.
In June 2017 the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs and UN agencies held a National Conference on Preventing and Ending Child and Early Marriageto explore effective strategies and best practices. Building on the outcomes of this conference, UNICEF recommended Vietnam to take on a holistic approach to ending child marriage by empowering girls of all ethnicities, and tackling the root causes through socio-economic development.
According to a 2015 civil society report to CEDAW, whilst public campaigns on the prevention of child marriage have been widely conducted in Vietnam, these need to be more “target-group oriented” and there need to be more mechanisms available to support individuals at risk.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
Under the Family and Marriage Law 2000 the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years for girls and 20 years for boys with no exceptions.
Time to act! Accelerating efforts to end child, early and forced marriage in Asia
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Child, early and forced marriage legislation in 37 Asia-Pacific countries
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Unhappily ever after: slow and uneven progress in the fight against early marriage
"Unhappily ever after" explores how trends & prevalence of child marriage vary across regions. It provides a nuanced look at the web of disadvantages that girls at risk face.
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