Forced Marriage

In every country and culture, young people are forced into marriages where they face control and abuse. Watch this short video lesson, then join the call for change.

Take action
We can help you stay informed of the latest on modern slavery.
Freedom United will protect your privacy while updating you on campaigns, news and stories about modern slavery.

Don’t have time to watch the video?

You can read the short transcript instead.

  • From the Middle East to Latin America, South Asia to Europe, child marriage is a global problem that cuts across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities.
  • Niger has the highest rate of child marriage. Despite a slightly lower rate, the country with the highest number of child marriages is populous Bangladesh.
  • Over 700 million women alive today were married as children. That’s nearly 11 times the population of the UK!
  • In some countries, people believe marriage to an older man offers protection to young girls, but this is not born out in fact. In Bangladesh, 47% of married girls have experienced partner violence. Child brides are more likely to endure physical, emotional and sexual abuse, an indicator of slavery.
  • Not all child marriages amount to slavery. Child marriage constitutes slavery if the child has not genuinely given their free and informed consent, is subjected to control and a sense of “ownership,” particularly through abuse, threats, or exploitation, and cannot realistically leave or end the marriage.
  • If an adult suffers these experiences, it also amounts to forced marriage or slavery.
  • Banning marriage for those under the age of 18 is an important step in areas where the cultural practice of child marriage is deeply embedded, but it will take more than that. In Bangladesh child marriage has been illegal since 1929. The law was reinforced in 1984, but child marriage still happens on a large scale.
  • Despite the many challenges, child marriage is decreasing around the world. A report by UNICEF showed that the percentage of women married before the age of 18 dropped from 33% to 26% between 1985 and 2010.
  • The overall number for those under 15 is dropping at an even faster rate. In South Asia, the rate of girls married before 15 dropped from 32% to 17%.

Take Action: Join the Fight Against Forced Child Marriage

Dive Deeper

Explore further

Stay up-to-date with the latest news and articles on the subject.

To prevent proposed legislation in Iraq that would abolish a minimum age of marriage for girls and help end forced child marriage. If passed, this legislation, known as the Jaafari Personal Status Law, would result in a life of domestic

Read more

Read more

Read more

Related efforts

Engage with this issue by taking action on current advocacy campaigns, or reading through past ones.

Every two seconds, a child becomes a victim of forced marriage. This egregious child rights violation robs millions of their childhoods, substituting a life of misery and hardship. Girls like Maria*, who at 13 was forced to become the

Read more

Three-quarters of girls in Niger are married before they are adults. Child marriage often amounts to slavery, for example, when girls have not given their free and full consent, are subjected to control, exploited and unable to leave,

Read more

Momentum is growing to repeal laws that enable convicted rapists to marry their victims to avoid punishment. As well as the horrors endured by victims, this law means many women and girls where these laws exist are then forced into

Read more