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

There is no publicly available government data on child marriage in Spain.

According to a 2015 report from the newspaper El País, 365 marriages involving people under the age of 16 had taken place in Spain since 2000.

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.

There is limited information on child marriage in Spain, but available studies suggest that is exacerbated by:

  • Ethnicity: A 2014 study by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights shows that around 2% of Roma girls aged 10-15 are traditionally married or cohabiting with a partner across 11 European Union member states, including Spain. 16% of Roma boys and girls aged 16-17 are legally or traditionally married or cohabiting across the 11 states.

Migration: While we lack concrete evidence, the NGO Ayuda en Acción indicates that harmful traditional practices such as child marriage could be on the rise in Spain due to recent migration flows.

What has this country committed to?

Spain has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, and mentioned the role of key government ministries tasked with monitoring target 5.3 in its 2018 Voluntary National Review at the High Level Political Forum, the mechanism through which countries report progress on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Spain co-sponsored the following Human Rights Council resolutions: the 2013 procedural resolution on child, early and forced marriage, the 2015 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, Spain also signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.

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

Spain 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 1984, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

In 2018, the Child Rights Committee recommended Spain to remove all exceptions to the minimum age of marriage of 18 years.


During its 2015 Universal Periodic Review, Spain agreed to examine recommendations to eliminate child marriage and increase the minimum age of marriage.

Spain has ratified the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (known as the Istanbul Convention), which considers forced marriage a serious form of violence against women and girls, and legally binds state parties to criminalise the intentional conduct of forcing an adult or child into a marriage.

At the London Girl Summit in July 2014, the government signed a charter committing to end child marriage by 2020.

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

The eighth pillar of the Pacto de Estado contra la Violencia de Género (State Pact against Gender-based Violence), adopted in 2017, provides for measures to raise awareness of and respond to other forms of violence against women and girls, including forced marriage.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

The minimum age of marriage is 18. However, girls and boys aged 16 can be married off with judicial consent.

The minimum age for marriage with judicial consent was raised from 14 to 16 years old in 2015 when Spain passed the Voluntary Jurisdiction Law (Ley de Jurisdicción Voluntaria).


Ayuda en Acción, Matrimonio infantil: ¿en qué países se practica?, [website], 2018, https://ayudaenaccion.org/ong/blog/infancia/matrimonio-infantil-paises/ (accessed February 2020).

Council of Europe, Details of Treaty No. 210. Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, [website], 2014, https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/210 (accessed February 2020).

El País, La ley prohíbe desde hoy casarse a los menores de 16 años, [website], 2015, https://politica.elpais.com/politica/2015/07/22/actualidad/1437579678_542369.html (accessed February 2020).

European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Addressing forced marriage in the EU: legal provisions and promising practices, 2014, http://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2014/addressing-forced-marriage-eu-legal-provisions-and-promising-practices (accessed February 2020).

Girl Summit 2014, The Girl Summit Charter on Ending FGM and Child, Early and Forced Marriage, [website], 2015, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/459236/Public_Girl_Summit_Charter_with_Signatories.pdf (accessed February 2020).

Gobierno de España, Spain Report for the 2018 Voluntary National Review, 2018, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/203295182018_VNR_Report_Spain_EN_ddghpbrgsp.pdf (accessed February 2020).

Ministerio de Igualdad, Pacto de Estado contra la Violencia de Género, [website], http://www.violenciagenero.igualdad.gob.es/pactoEstado/home.htm (accessed February 2020).

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014, http://fngeneve.um.dk/en/aboutus/statements/newsdisplaypage/?newsid=6371ad93-8fb0-4c35-b186-820fa996d379 (accessed February 2020).

Noticias Jurídicas, Ley 15/2015, de 2 de julio, de la Jurisdicción Voluntaria, [website], 2015, http://noticias.juridicas.com/base_datos/Privado/555976-l-15-2015-de-2-jul-jurisdiccion-voluntaria.html (accessed February 2020).

UN Child Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the combined fifth and sixth periodic reports of Spain, CRC/C/ESP/CO/5-6, 2018, p. 4, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC%2fC%2fESP%2fCO%2f5-6&Lang=en (accessed February 2020).

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Spain, 2015, p.20, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/ESIndex.aspx (accessed February 2020).

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