Countries with Highest Proportion of Child Marriage


Child marriage has been a part of the world history which can be confirmed from the records dating back to earliest of human civilization. What was considered a part of the norm has now become a potential for abuse; physical, verbal and mental. It would suffice to say that apart from the minuscule of cases where it has been done out of necessity in some cultures, the apparent act of human rights violation against boys and, to a much higher degree, girls have been hard to ignore in these following times.

Facts and figures

countries suffering from child marriage

Child marriage, where a male or a female was considered eligible for the wedding after puberty, had been practiced openly even in the present developed part of the world up until a century ago even. It was also understandable considering that average human lifespan had been shortened due to diseases and serial conflicts to the point where it was no greater than 30 years. But with technological advancements and the lifespan of human getting extended to the point where they say that 50 is the new 30, Child Marriage has lost its favor in the world.

The Definition of Child Marriage:

The definition of child marriage can also change depending on cultures depending on the legal marriage age as some countries even have 15 as the legal marriage age. For the sake of international standards which consider anyone below 18 a minor, we are going to be ranking the countries based on the 18 year age limit.

The countries ranked below are based on the raw data gathered by UNICEF for women aged between 20 and 24 and the percentages of that which are married before the age of 18 and 15.

8. Guinea (51%)

As per the facts and figure of UNICEF of the year 2017, 21% of the girls in Guinea are married before the age of 15 and 51% are married before the age of 18. So in general terms, one out of every two girls are made wives before 18 years. The primary driver in the region are lack of education and poverty. Only one-third of the children are given primary education. Adding to that, the wedding is said to be the union of two different families. As in most of the nations, getting married is a choice of two individuals. Well, that is not the case here.

Adding to these things, a man who has more than one young bride is given higher status than usual ones. The age gap between the men and women who are engaged to each other is normally 14 years. Although some initiatives are being taken to stop the child marriage trend in the country. Many NGOs and international organizations are working to educate people about the disadvantages of this. African Union campaign to end child marriage was initiated in Guinea on 16th June 2017.

7. South Sudan (52%)countries with most child marriage

South Sudan was marked in the countries where the proportion of marriage before a specific age is quite high. The country was ranked on the 7th spot, and the rate of child marriage is 52%. There are many reasons why girls are married before their eighteenth birthday. The primary reasons include poverty, lack of education, instability and gender gaps. It is a common assumption in the country that they call to alleviate poverty by marrying the children earlier.

The people also have this assumption that they can avoid premarital sex and unwanted pregnancies if they get their children married before puberty. Sometimes, the families also arrange weddings in exchange for money and other resources like cattle. The legal system over here is also not maintained properly. So the ones who violate cannot be brought to justice.

6. Mali (52%)

Mali is an impoverished country and that coupled with lack of education is often cited as the reason for country’s unfortunately high child marriage rates. In fact, 9 out of 10 married girls that are aged 15-19 are entirely illiterate.

5. Burkina Faso (52%)

The prevalence rate of child marriage in Burkina Faso is quite high as compared to other nations. The percentage rises to about 52 percent here. If we put these facts in general terms, one out of two girls in the country get married before they reach the age of 18. The actual reasons behind this problem are poverty, lack of education and traditions. As per the studies of UNFPA, more than 60 percent of the women between the ages of 20 – 24 years are not educated. Adding to that the 42% women, who have primary education are married at the age of 18. The girls that are less educated have more risk of child marriage.

4. Bangladesh (59%)top countries with most child marriage

In Bangladesh, the problem with child marriage comes with the fact that people there are concerned with the social or financial status of their children. So it is a broad practice where young girls and also boys are married into other families as a way to strengthen the family ties, especially in rural area. Bangladesh is still better than many other nations in the top 10 countries with the highest proportion for marriage when it comes to marriage before the age of 15.

3. Chad (67%)

The dire socio-economic situation in Chad is the man factor of such a high rate of Child marriage. High food prices and droughts are usually the reason poor children are married, but the practice of child marriage also happens among affluent families. The children over here become even more vulnerable to marriage because of the awkward socio-economic conditions in the country. Malnutrition, high prices of food and droughts are the major reasons for early weddings.

In recent years some initiatives were taken to end this tradition. The Parliament of Chad approved an ordinance which was signed by President to prohibit engaging the children before the age of 15 to 18 years. As per this law, the violation of it carries hefty fines.

2. Central African Republic (68%)

The internal conflicts and violence have led to this immensely high child marriage rate. Human rights abuse issues are common as well. Lack of education and scarce opportunities are the reasons that young girls are at extreme risks of married young.

Central African Public is also known to be the nation with second lowest GDP as compared to the other countries of the world. The lack of access to education and poverty are the major factors why the parents plan to engage their children before 18 years of age. The situation is quite alarming because of the girls only to school till the age of 7.

Other cultural practices including polygamy, bride price, and female genital cutting are the reasons for child marriage out here. As per the legal code of the Central African Republic, it is possible for a man to have up to 4 wives. Adding to that, if the wide is younger than the man, he is given a higher social status.

The people of the country also plan the marriages of their girls before a specific age because they think that they can protect their daughters from sexual abuse and violence if they get her engaged to a man before the age.

Top Listed Countries with the Highest Proportion of Child Marriage

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Proportion of Child Marriage

Down below is the list of countries with the highest proportion of child marriage:

Sr. No. Country %age of Age < 15 %age of Age <18
1 Niger 28 76
2 Central African Republic 29 68
3 Chad 30 67
4 Bangladesh 22 59
5 Burkina Faso 10 52
6 Mali 17 52
7 South Sudan 9 52
8 Guinea 21 52
9 Mozambique 14 48
10 Somalia 8 45
11 Nigeria 17 44
12 Malawi 9 42
13 Eritrea 13 41
14 Madagascar 12 41
15 Ethiopia 174 40
16 Nepal 10 40
17 Uganda 10 40
18 Sierra Leone 13 39
19 Democratic Republic of Congo 10 37
20 Mauritania 14 37

Niger (76%)

top countries suffering from child marriage in the world

Niger has considered one of the poorest countries in the world, and with its landlocked nature, droughts, famines and malnutrition issues, children are often married without a second thought for even as little as $10 as the offering, especially when it comes to girls. Even though the country’s poverty provides the basis for child marriage, the child marriage in turns also contributes towards poverty. World Bank has suggested that Niger could save well over $25 billion in the next 15 years on the back of ending child marriage alone.

Marriage is seen as a mean to bring prosperity to the family of the girls. These assumptions are quite common in these nations. Poverty brings many problems along with it. People of these countries seek some refuge from other sources. So if we put it in terms, education is also a factor that contributes to all this. The rate of literacy is quite low and added with poverty it creates even worse circumstances.