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Mauritania

Taux de mariages d'enfants
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 15 ans
18%
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 18 ans
37%
Classement international*

20

* 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: European Commission DG Echo

Taux de mariages d'enfants
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 15 ans
18%
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 18 ans
37%
Classement international*

20

* 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?

37% of girls in Mauritania are married before the age of 18 and 18% are married before their 15th birthday.

According to UNICEF, Mauritania has the 20th highest prevalence rate of child marriage in the world.

Child marriage is most prevalent in rural areas and Guidimagha (where 55% of women aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18), Assaba (44%) and Hodh Echargui (40%).

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

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys. In Mauritania, child marriage is also driven by:

  • Poverty: Girls from Mauritania’s poorest households are almost twice more likely to marry young than those living in the richest households.
  • Level of education: 43% of women with no education were married as children, compared to only 22% who had completed secondary school or higher.
  • Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C reportedly makes it possible for girls aged eight and nine to marry and is commonly seen as a marker of adulthood and readiness for marriage
  • Traditional customs: Some young girls are fed high calorie diets and animal growth hormones to accelerate puberty and increase their marriage prosects, as obesity is typically regarded as a sign of beauty in Mauritania. The practice – known as leblouh or gavage – seriously jeopardises their health, and one child bride died in 2013 after she was force fed from the age of seven and then married off to a man who was 10 years older than her father. Local organisation L’Association des Femmes Chefs de Famille has handled 140 cases of child brides subjected to gavage and chemical gavage.
  • Slavery: Despite slavery being made illegal in 1981, thousands of people from minority Haratine and Afro-Mauritanian groups still live as domestic servants and child brides. Temporary siriya marriages continue to take place between Mauritanian girls and wealthy Middle Eastern men, particularly in Saudi Arabia.
  • Violence against Girls: Maslaha or “kindship” marriages see young girls being married off to cousins in efforts to protect them from sexual violence.

What has this country committed to?

Mauritania has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2014, Mauritania signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.

Mauritania ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2001, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

During its 2015 Universal Periodic Review, Mauritania supported recommendations to develop a comprehensive national strategy and laws for combatting child marriage.

During its 2014 review, the CEDAW Committee raised concerns about discriminatory provisions in the Personal Status Code enabling the authorisation of marriages for girls under the age of 18 by their guardians.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Personal Status Code Act 2001 the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years with no exceptions.

However Article 9 and 10 of the Act mention that an adult woman cannot be married without both her consent and the presence of her guardian (weli) who must be male and Muslim, and that the silence of the woman is taken as consent.

Source

Equality Now, Protecting the girl child, Using the law to end child, early and forced marriage and related human rights violations, 2014, (accessed June 2018)

Global Slavery Index, Mauritania, [website], 2018, (accessed June 2018)

Government of Mauritania, MAURITANIE, Enquête par grappes à indicateurs multiples, 2015, 2017, (accessed May 2018)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014, (accessed April 2018)

The Guardian, The unspeakable truth about slavery in Mauritania, [website], 2018, (accessed June 2018)

Thomas Reuters Foundation, Mauritania must ban deadly force feeding of child brides – activists, [website], 2014, (accessed June 2018)

Tostan, UNICEF video highlights the movement to abandon female genital cutting in Mauritania, [website], 2013, (accessed May 2018)

UN CEDAW, Concluding observations on the combined second and third periodic reports of Mauritania, 2014, p.13, (accessed May 2018)

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Mauritania, 2015, p.16, (accessed May 2018)

United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, (accessed February 2018)

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.