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A veiled girl from the Saraniya communityi waits for her engagement ceremony to start at Vadia village in the western Indian state of Gujarat March 11, 2012. REUTERS/Amit Dave (INDIA - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR2Z7GY

Sobering stats

Child marriage permitted in 117 countries, report finds

September 19, 2016

Laws in 117 countries around the world permit children under the age of 18 to marry, according to a report by Pew Research.

Relying on data from the United Nations and U.S. State Department, the report analyzed marriage laws of 198 nations and territories. Researchers found that while 153 countries require marriage to occur between adults of at least 18 years of age, most of those countries also “have some form of exemption to their legal minimum marriage age.”

In many places across the globe — including developed countries like the United States — marriage can legally occur before 18 if parental consent is given. In some American states, for example, legal marriageable age drops to 16 with parental permission.

Australia allows couples to marry, with judicial approval, if just one partner is 18 or older. Some countries will tweak age requirements depending on religious affiliation. In the Philippines, for example, couples must be at least 21 to marry without permission, but Muslim boys can marry at 15 and Muslim girls can be wed once they hit puberty.

Thirty-eight countries put forth different age requirements for girls and boys; in 37 of those countries, the minimum marriageable age for girls is lower. Bangladesh, for instance, mandates that men must be 21 to marry, but women can marry at the age of 18.

The report also found that minimum age requirements are often ignored, even in countries that allow minors to wed. Romani girls in Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and the Ukraine frequently marry when they are younger than the minimum legal age. In Pakistan, forced marriages among children are commonplace.

Child marriage can have dire consequences, particularly for girls. Female children who marry at a young age are more likely to leave school, experience domestic violence, and die during childbirth than women who wed after the age of 18.

Read more at Quartz.


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