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Afghanistan

Taux de mariages d'enfants
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 15 ans
4%
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 18 ans
28%

* Références

Fait référence au pourcentage de femmes âgées de 20 à 24 ans qui ont été mariées ou en concubinage avant le l’âge de 15 ou 18 ans.

Photo credit: Kanishka Afshari | FCO/DFID

Taux de mariages d'enfants
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 15 ans
4%
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 18 ans
28%

* Références

Fait référence au pourcentage de femmes âgées de 20 à 24 ans qui ont été mariées ou en concubinage avant le l’âge de 15 ou 18 ans.

What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?

28% of Afghan girls are married before the age of 18 and 4% are married before their 15th birthday.

7% of Afghan boys are married before the age of 18.

Afghanistan has the 20th highest absolute number of women married or in a union before the age of 18 in the world – 522,000.

The lowest median age at first marriage (age by which half of respondents have been married) is in Nimroz at 15.9 years.

Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys.

In Afghanistan, child marriage is also driven by:

  • Level of education: Government data indicates that girls who do not study are three times more likely to marry before the age of 18 than girls who have completed secondary education or higher. A 2017 Human Rights Watch report showed that when a girl is married off, her sister often has to take on her household duties and consequently drops out of school and becomes vulnerable to child marriage. Even the anticipation of marriage forces some girls to leave school.
  • Harmful traditional practices: Harmful traditional practices are frequently economically driven. There is a transactional view of marriage, involving the exchange of money and goods. Girls are seen as part of this transaction, for example, as a potential source of domestic labour. Child marriage is sometimes used to strengthen ties between rival families and settle disputes – a practice known as baad. Girls have little say in this and often face serious physical and emotional abuse. When they try to escape, they are sometimes arrested for zina (running away) which is seen a moral crime. Baadl is the exchange of daughters in marriage between families, either before birth or as young as two.
  • Traditional attitudes: A 2014 study by the Asia Foundation shows that younger, single Afghans in urban areas are much more in favour of girls marrying at an older age, compared with older, married Afghans in rural areas.
  • Weak legal frameworks: There is the assumption that marriage is not a government concern, and that the authority on the topic of marriage are religious and community leaders. The prevalence of parallel legal systems imposed by tribal, family and religious communities limits the ability to enforce frameworks around child marriage.
  • Adolescent pregnancy: In Afghanistan, the majority of adolescent childbearing occurs within marriage. While childbearing can occur right after the marriage, girls may be married off to avoid the social stigma of pre-marital sex and childbirth out of wedlock.

Humanitarian settings can encompass a wide range of situations before, during, and after natural disasters, conflicts, and epidemics. They exacerbate poverty, insecurity, and lack of access to services such as education. These factors can drive child marriage and, often in times of crisis, families see marrying their girls off as a way to avoid greater economic hardship and to protect girls from violence. Afghanistan has been in conflict for almost 35 years and the overall security situation remained tense across the country. More than 230,000 people fled their homes due to conflict from January to August 2019, bringing the total number of displaced people to almost 3.4 million.

  • Displacement: For internally displaced families, child marriage can be perceived as a survival tactic. For example, a 2015 Norwegian Refugee Council study showed that internally displaced girls are often married off to older men who are able to pay dowry and support them during times of food insecurity.

Returnees: Many refugee girls returning to Afghanistan are reportedly at risk of child marriage as they do not have access to education and are not eligible for aid from UN agencies. Families resort to arranging an early marriage for daughters as a perceived survival tactic.

What has this country committed to?

Afghanistan has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. During its Voluntary National Review at the 2017 High Level Political Forum, the government highlighted that it is working to reduce the number of girls who marry before the legal age to 10% by 2030.

Afghanistan co-sponsored the 2013 and 2014 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage. Afghanistan ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18.

Afghanistan ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18. Afghanistan ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 2003, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

In 2011, the Child Rights Committee expressed concerns about the inconsistencies between civil law, Sharia and customary laws as to the legal minimum age for marriage, and the absence of effective measures to prevent and eliminate early and forced marriages. In 2019, the Committee requested further information on the legal and policy developments to address child marriage in Afghanistan.

In 2013 the CEDAW Committee raised concerns about the persistence of adverse practices harmful to women, including child marriage. In 2019, the CEDAW Committee requested further information on the implementation of policies and programmes to end harmful practices including child marriage.

During its 2014 Universal Periodic Review, Afghanistan supported recommendations to revise legislation to ensure that legal ages of marriage in the Civil Law and in Sharia regulations are in line with international standards. During its 2019 Universal Periodic Review, Afghanistan supported recommendations to take steps to end early and child marriage by implementing a national plan on child marriage and developing awareness raising programmes to end harmful traditional practices. 

Afghanistan is a member of the South Asian Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC) which adopted a Regional Action Plan to End Child Marriage from 2015 – 2018.

Representatives of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), including Afghanistan committed to the Kathmandu Call to Action to End Child Marriage in Asia in 2014. As part of its commitment, Afghanistan will ensure access to legal remedies for child brides and establish a uniform minimum legal age of marriage of 18.

Afghanistan is a partner developing country of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

What is the government doing to address this at the national level?

On 19 April 2017, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Information and Culture launched a National Action Plan To Eliminate Early and Child Marriage. The plan was developed in partnership with UNFPA Afghanistan and followed several consultations with the international community. As reported by UNICEF, these policies and legislation have yet to have a strong impact.

In February 2019, Afghanistan launched the Girls’ Education Policy. According to UNICEF, the policy includes provisions to reduce child marriage through inter-sectoral collaboration.

Afghanistan have also received support from UNICEF to ensure universal civil registration by 2024, including birth registration as a sustainable intervention to combat child marriage.

As reported to the Child Rights Committee in 2019, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), mandated to protect and promote human rights situations across Afghanistan, has held a nation-wide training course for its child rights staff in Kabul. In this training course, employees studied vulnerable children and legal support, the prevention of child marriage and how to support children during armed conflicts.

 

The Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) legislation, which seeks to address sexual harassment and gender-based violence, including child marriage and other harmful practices, was signed by the then-president in 2009. However, according to a 2018 UN report, violence against women and girls is still largely ignored by the Afghan criminal justice system.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under Article 70 of the Civil Code of the Republic of Afghanistan 1977, the legal marriageable age is 16 for girls and 18 for boys. When a girl is below the age of 16, a marriage can be concluded with the permission of her father or a judge. 

Under Article 71 of the Civil Code of the Republic of Afghanistan 1977, the marriage of a girl under 15 is not permitted, however religious and customary laws have been found to contradict and take precedence over civil law. There is no data available as to the minimum legal age of marriage in Afghanistan once all exceptions have been taken into account.

A draft Family Protection Law is currently under review in which the marriage age for both girls and boys would be equal at 18.

Source

Afghanistan Living Conditions Survey 2016-17, Central Statistics Organization, https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/alcs_2017.pdf (accessed September 2020)

Afghan Women’s Network, Afghanistan CEDAW Shadow Report, 2012, www.awn-af.net/index.php/cms/report_download/517 (accessed January 2020).

Aljazeera, Afghan returnee girls at risk of early marriage: Report, [website], 2016, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/12/afghan-refugees-161214082457089.html (accessed January 2020).

Asia Foundation, AFGHANISTAN IN 2014. A Survey of the Afghan People, 2017, https://asiafoundation.org/resources/pdfs/Afghanistanin2014final.pdf (accessed January 2020).

Central Statistics Organization and Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health, Afghanistan Demographic and Health Survey 2015, 2017, https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/FR323/FR323.pdf (accessed January 2020).

European Commission, Afghanistan, [website], 2019, https://ec.europa.eu/echo/where/asia-and-pacific/afghanistan_en (accessed April 2020).

Girls Not Brides, Afghanistan Launches National Action Plan To End Child Marriage, [website], 2017, https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/afghanistan-launches-national-action-plan-end-child-marriage/ (accessed January 2020).

Global Partnership for Education, Afghanistan, [website], https://www.globalpartnership.org/where-we-work/afghanistan (accessed January 2020).

Government of Afghanistan, SDGs’ Progress Report Afghanistan, 2017, 

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/16277Afghanistan.pdf (accessed January 2020).

Government Media & Information Office, Girls Education Policy launched, [website], 2018, https://www.gmic.gov.af/english/press-releases33/645-girls-education-policy-launched (accessed January 2020).

Human Rights Watch, “I Had To Run Away”: The Imprisonment of Women and Girls for “Moral Crimes” in Afghanistan, 2012, https://www.hrw.org/report/2012/03/28/i-had-run-away/imprisonment-women-and-girls-moral-crimes-afghanistan (accessed January 2020).

Human Rights Watch, “I Won’t Be a Doctor, and One Day You’ll Be Sick”: Girls’ Access to Education in Afghanistan, 2017, https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/10/17/i-wont-be-doctor-and-one-day-youll-be-sick/girls-access-education-afghanistan (accessed January 2020).

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Norwegian Refugee Council and the Liaison Office, Listening to Women and Girls Displaced to Urban Afghanistan, 2015, https://www.nrc.no/globalassets/pdf/reports/listening-to-women-and-girls-displaced-to-urban-afghanistan.pdf (accessed January 2020).

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Fait référence au pourcentage de femmes âgées de 20 à 24 ans qui ont été mariées ou en concubinage avant le l’âge de 15 ou 18 ans.