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Top 10 African Countries With The Highest Rates of Child Marriage

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child marriage in Africa

Child marriage is a truly global problem that cuts across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities. Child brides can be found in every region in the world, from the Middle East to Latin America, South Asia to Europe, And in Africa – Where it is highest.

Below Are The Top 10 African Countries With The Highest Rates of Child Marriage.

1. Niger

Niger has the highest rate of child marriage in not just Africa, but the world. 3 in 4 girls marry before their 18th birthday.

In some areas, the rates are even higher: like in the region of Diffa, where 89% of girls marry as children.

2. Central African Republic

Almost the entire population of the Central African Republic (CAR) has been directly affected by conflict and violence. Human rights abuses against women and children are widespread, including the practice of child marriage.
More: Child Mortality In Africa: Top 10 Key Facts and Figures


2. Chad

Like Central African Republic, Chad has the second highest rate of child marriage in Africa and the world – 68% of girls are married as children – and unlike many other African countries, the practice is prevalent in both wealthy and less wealthy households.

Child marriage in Africa
Photo credit: Human Rights Watch

3. Mali

Despite a slight decrease in child marriage rates over the past 30 years, child marriage in Mali is still common across Mali with more than 1 in 2 girls married before their 18th birthday.

4. Burkinafaso

Child marriage in Burkina Faso is linked to poverty, tradition and lack of education.

The country has a child marriage prevalence rate of 52%.

On average, almost one out of two girls in Burkina will be married before the age of 18.

5. Guinea

While child marriage is very common throughout Guinea, with more than 1 in 2 girls married before 18, its prevalence is highest in Upper Guinea, with 76% of girls marrying before 18 years.

Liie many countries on this list, poverty and a lack of access to education are major causes of child marriage in Guinea.

Child Marriage in Africa
Credit photo: Jessica Vassie | Girls Not Brides

5. South Sudan

High levels of poverty, conflict, instability, low levels of literacy and gender gaps in education fuel child marriage in South Sudan. Girls and families often feel that they are escaping poverty by marrying young.

More: Top 10 Awful Issues Facing Children In Africa

52% of girls in South Sudan are married before their 18th birthday.

6. Mozambique

Nearly 1 in 2 girls in Mozambique are married before her 18th birthday.

7. Malawi

Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Africa, with approximately 1 in 2 girls married by the age of 18.

8. Somalia

Nearly half of Somali girls are married by the time they turn 18.

More: Top 10 Poorest Countries In Africa 2017

Reports suggest that child marriage increased during the civil war as parents hoped to secure a better life for their daughters.

9. Nigeria

In Nigeria, 43% of girls are married off before their 18th birthday. 17% are married before they turn 15.

More: 10 Surprising Things Nigeria Doesn’t Lead The Rest Of Africa In

The prevalence of child marriage varies widely from one region to another, with figures as high as 76% in the North West region and as low as 10% in the South East.

Poverty, poor educational attainment and strong social and religious traditions are drivers of child marriage in North Western Nigeria.

More: Top 10 Least Socially Progressive Countries in Africa

10. Eritrea

The Constitution of Eritrea guarantees equal rights for women yet the incidence of child marriage remains high due to deep rooted cultural beliefs and practices.

Nearly 1 in 2 girls in Eritrea are married by their 18th birthday.

10. Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, two in every five girls are married before their 18th birthday and nearly one in five girls marries before the age of 15.

10. Madagascar

In Madagascar, where nearly half of the the population is under 14 years old and traditional practices prevail, child marriage is a common custom: 41% of girls are married before their 18th birthday, and 1 in 10 girls marry before 15.

In A Tabular Form, Here Are
Top 10 African Countries With The Highest Rates of Child Marriage

RankCountry Rate in %
1               Niger   76%
2               Central Africa R   68%
2               Chad   68%
3               Mali   55%
4               Burkinafaso   52%
5               Guinea   52%
5               South Sudan   52%
6               Mozambique   48%
7               Malawi   46%
8               Somalia   45%
9               Nigeria   43%
10               Eritrea   41%
10               Ethiopia   41%
10               Madagascar   41%

Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were first married or in union before they were 18 years old. It is based on Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and other national surveys.

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