Photo credit: Jonathan Hyams | Save the Children
Taux de mariages d'enfants
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 15 ans
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 18 ans
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?
Mexico has the eighth highest absolute number of women married or in a union before the age of 18 in the world – 1,420,000.
Child, Early and Forced Marriage and Unions (CEFMU) are most prevalent in the Northeast of Mexico and the Sur region.
Though rates of officially registered CEFMU have fallen in Mexico, more girls and adolescents are being pushed into informal unions, which are reportedly four times more common than registered marriages. Juntarse – which means “to get together” and used to refer to an informal union, usually sees a girl or adolescent and her family agree on an union, but paperwork is not filed until much later.
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 are somehow inferior to men.
In Mexico, CEFMU is also driven by:
- Level of education:50% of women with no education were married or in a union before the age of 18, compared to only 4% who had completed higher education.
- Poverty: 38% of women living in Mexico’s poorest households were married or in a union before the age of 18, compared to 10% of those living in the richest households. A 2016 study by UN Women found that 60% of interviewed Mexican women who were married as children lived in poverty at the time.
- Adolescent pregnancy: Almost half of adolescent girls (aged 12-17) who are married have at least one child. In some communities, CEFMU is encouraged to avoid pre-marital sex.
- Harmful traditional practices: CEFMU is most common in rural areas of Mexico, particularly among indigenous groups, including the Chiapas, Guerrero and Veracruz, where customary laws prevail over state legislation.
- Trafficking: A 2017 study suggests that child marriage is used as a means to traffic adolescent girls into the sex trade in border towns such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez.
- Power dynamics: Most adolescent girls aged 12-17 who are in a union are at least six years younger than their partner and 65% are younger by 11 years or more. Even if the adolescent girl is involved in the decision-making process on entering a union, she often does it with someone with far more power and resources.
Forced displacement: In recent years, gang warfare and violence have transformed the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador into some of the most dangerous places on earth. Over half a million people, the majority of them women, children and unaccompanied minors, have fled and are seeking asylum in Mexico and the United States. Harsh migration policies introduced by the United States and Mexico in recent years have increased the dangers for an already vulnerable population, and women and girls are at a heightened risk of sexual violence during the migration route. This kind of humanitarian crisis exacerbates poverty, insecurity, and lack of access to services such as education, factors which all drive CEFMU. While gender inequality is a root cause of CEFMU in both stable and crisis contexts, often in times of crisis, families see it as a way to cope with greater economic hardship and to protect girls from increased violence. Although there is a lack in research and data of the impact of the Central America refugee crisis on CEFMU, previous experiences show that forced displacement increases girls’ vulnerability to CEFMU.
What has this country committed to?
Mexico has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. The government reiterated its commitment to this target during its 2016 and 2018 Voluntary National Reviews at High Level Political Forums, the mechanism through which countries report progress on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
Mexico co-sponsored the following Human Rights Council resolutions: 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.
Mexico 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 in 1981, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.
In 2018, the CEDAW Committee expressed concerns about reports of forced marriage taking placed, especially in indigenous communities. The Committee recommended Mexico to ensure the effective implementation of the minimum age of marriage of 18 years of age throughout the country, conduct awareness-raising campaigns to challenge cultural attitudes that legitimise early marriage.
During Mexico’s 2015 review, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern about cases of forced child marriage among indigenous girls.
During its 2018 Universal Periodic Review, Mexico agreed to review recommendations to work towards ensuring that relevant federal legislation is consistent with the General Act on the Rights of Children and Adolescents in respect of the minimum age for marriage.
Mexico, 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.
Mexico ratified the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women (known as the Belém do Pará Convention) in 1998. 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.
Mexico, 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.
Mexico is one of the countries where the UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women are working together under the Latin America and the Caribbean Joint Programme for a Region Free of Child Marriage and Early Unions (2018-2021) to: align national frameworks with international standards, empower girls, promote policies and services that address the drivers of child marriage and early unions and break the silence nationally and regionally.
In November 2015, UN Women, UNFPA, UNAIDS, UNICEF and the Pan American Health Organization launched a regional programme on preventing violence against women and girls in Ecuador, Guatemala and Mexico. The programme promotes changes in law to eliminate all exceptions to the minimum age of marriage.
Mexico is one of the countries where the Spotlight Initiative (a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations) is supporting efforts to end all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls.
Mexico is a Pathfinder country for the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.
What is the government doing to address this at the national level?
In June 2019, all exceptions to the minimum age of marriage were removed through the amendment of the Federal Civil Code.
In 2015 the Federal Government launched the National Strategy for Prevention of Pregnancy in Adolescents. The strategy aims to reduce teenage pregnancy – a core driver of child marriage – within a human rights and gender equality framework.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
The General Law on the Rights of Children and Adolescents 2014 establishes 18 years as the minimum age of marriage. In June 2019, amendments to the Federal Civil Code were introduced which removed all exceptions to the minimum age of marriage. Previously, girls could marry at 14 and boys could marry at 16 with parental consent.
However, the age of marriage varies at the state level and is dependent on each state’s legislation.
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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.
- Balance Promoción para el Desarrollo y Juventud A.C. (Balance A.C.)
- Central America and Mexico Youth Fund (CAMY Fund)
- Fundación Mexicana para la Planeación Familiar (MEXFAM)
- Información y Diseños Educativos para Acciones Saludables A.C. (IDEAS Ch’ieltik)
- Kinal Antzetik Guerrero A. C.
- Lunas Libres y Unidas en Nuevas Acciones Sororales (LUNAS A.C.)
- Mano Vuelta A.C.
- Observatorio de Mortalidad Materna (OMM)
- Unidad de atención sicológica, sexológica y educativa para el crecimiento personal (UNASSE A.C.)
- Yo Quiero Yo Puedo