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Costa Rica

Taux de mariages d'enfants
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 15 ans
7%
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 18 ans
21%

* 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.

Taux de mariages d'enfants
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 15 ans
7%
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 18 ans
21%

* 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?

21% of girls in Costa Rica are married or in a union before their 18th birthday and 7% are married or in a union before the age of 15.

Child, Early, and Forced Marriage and Unions (CEFMU) rates are highest in Limón (where 36% of women aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18), Guanacaste (32%), Puntarenas (30%) and San José (22%). 

CEFMU is most prevalent among indigenous and Afro-Costa Rican communities.

In Costa Rica, CEFMU usually consists of an informal union, in which a girl lives with an older partner.

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

Child, Early, and Forced Marriage and Unions (CEFMU) are driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys.

In Costa Rica, CEFMU is also driven by:

  • Level of education: 30% of women with no education were married or in a union before the age of 18, compared to only 15% who had completed secondary education or higher.
  • Poverty: 42% of women living in Costa Rica’s poorest households were married or in a union before the age of 18, compared to only 10% in the richest. CEFMU rates are higher in rural areas, likely due to fewer economic opportunities and limited awareness on the consequences of CEFMU.
  • Harmful traditional practices: CEFMU is particularly common among indigenous groups, including the Ngabe community where girls are deemed eligible to marry when they reach puberty.

Gender norms: 17% of girls aged 15-19 are married or in a union to men who are more than ten years older than them. Experts note that changing social acceptance and power dynamics surrounding CEFMU takes time.

What has this country committed to?

Costa Rica has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. The government did not provide an update on progress towards this target during its Voluntary National Review at the 2017 High Level Political Forum.

Costa Rica co-sponsored the following Human Rights Council resolutions: the 2013 procedural resolution on child, early and forced marriage, the 2017 resolution on recognising the need to address child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian contexts, and the 2019 resolution on the consequences of child marriage. In 2014, Costa Rica also signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.

Costa Rica co-sponsored the 2013, 2014 and 2018 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage.

Costa Rica 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 1986, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

In 2020, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child welcomed the enactment of Act No. 9406 prohibiting marriage under 18 years of age. However, the Committee recommended Costa Rica to strengthen its efforts to raise awareness on the harmful effects of the practice of cohabitation between girls and adult men.

During its 2019 Universal Periodic Review, Costa Rica agreed to review recommendations to take measures against child, early and forced marriage.

Costa Rica, as a member of the Organization of American States (OAS), is bound to the Inter American System of Human Rights, which recognises the right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and calls to governments to strengthen the respond to address gender-based violence and discrimination, including early, forced and child marriage and unions from a perspective that respected evolving capacities and progressive autonomy.

Costa Rica ratified the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women (known as the Belém do Pará Convention) in 1995. In 2016, the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention (MESECVI) recommended State Parties to review and reform laws and practices to increase the minimum age for marriage to 18 years for women and men.

Costa Rica, as a member of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), adopted the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development in 2013, which recognises the need to address the high levels of adolescent pregnancy in the region as usually associated with the forced marriage of girls. In 2016, the Montevideo Strategy for Implementation of the Regional Gender Agenda was also approved by the ECLAC countries. This Agenda encompasses commitments made by the governments on women’s rights and autonomy, and gender equality, during the last 40 years in the Regional Conferences of Women in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Agenda reaffirms the right to a life free of all forms of violence, including forced marriage and cohabitation for girls and adolescents.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

The minimum age of marriage in Costa Rica is 18 years.

In January 2017 a new law on “improper relations” (Ley de Relaciones Impropias, Act No. 9406) was adopted, which prohibits civil marriages when a person under the age of 18 is involved. Previously, minors between the ages of 15-18 years could marry with parental permission.

Source

Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), La Infancia y Sus Derechos en el Sistema Interamericano de Protección de Derechos Humanos (Segunda Edición), OEA/Ser.L/V/II.133, 2008, https://cidh.oas.org/countryrep/Infancia2sp/Infancia2indice.sp.htm (accessed March 2020). 

Costa Rica Gobierno, Costa Rica fortalece medidas para proteger a las personas menores de edad mediante la Ley de Relaciones Impropias, [website], 2017, http://presidencia.go.cr/comunicados/2017/01/costa-rica-fortalece-medidas-para-proteger-a-las-personas-menores-de-edad-mediante-la-ley-de-relaciones-impropias/ (accessed March 2020).

Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Montevideo consensus on population and development, Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2013, https://repositorio.cepal.org/bitstream/handle/11362/21860/4/S20131039_en.pdf (accessed March 2020).

Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Montevideo Strategy for Implementation of the Regional Gender Agenda within the Sustainable Development Framework by 2030, Regional Conference On Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2016, https://repositorio.cepal.org/bitstream/handle/11362/41013/S1700033_en.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y (accessed March 2020).

Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention (MESECVI), Hemispheric report on sexual violence and child pregnancy in the States Party to the Belém do Pará Convention, 2016, https://www.oas.org/es/mesecvi/docs/MESECVI-EmbarazoInfantil-EN.pdf (accessed March 2020).

Ministerio de Salud y UNICEF, Encuesta de Indicadores Múltiples por Conglomerados 2011, 2013, https://mics-surveys-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/MICS4/Latin%20America%20and%20Caribbean/Costa%20Rica/2011/Final/Costa%20Rica%202011%20MICS_Spanish.pdf (accessed March 2020).

Organization of American States (OAS), Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (« Convention of Belem do Pará »), 9 June 1994, https://www.oas.org/es/mesecvi/convencion.asp (accessed March 2020).

Thomas Reuters Foundation, Experts hope raising minimum marriage age to 18 will prevent teen pregnancy and girls dropping out of school, [website], 2017, http://news.trust.org/item/20170126065048-hfl40/ (accessed March 2020).

UN Child Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the combined fifth and sixth periodic reports of Costa Rica, 2020, p. 8, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC%2fC%2fCRI%2fCO%2f5-6&Lang=en (accessed March 2020).

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review. Costa Rica, 2019, p. 19, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/CRIndex.aspx (accessed March 2020).

UNICEF, A Profile of Child Marriage and Early Unions in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2019, https://www.unicef.org/lac/en/reports/profile-child-marriage-and-early-unions (accessed March 2020).

United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg5 (accessed March 2020).

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.