Child, Early and Forced Marriage in Fragile and Conflict Affected States

20th April 2020
Author: Jenny Birchall

This report examines the scale of child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) in fragile and conflict-affected states. Studies focusing on the displaced Syrian population, the conflict-affected population in Yemen, and displaced groups in several Sub-Saharan African countries highlight recent increases in child marriage in FCAS. While evidence shows that globally, girls from poor and/or rural backgrounds are more likely to be married than girls from richer and/or urban backgrounds, this is not a linear pattern and it varies across countries. There are some consistent drivers of CEFM across countries, whether they are stable or fragile. These include gender inequality and unequal gender norms, poverty, barriers to education, unpaid family caring responsibilities, weak law enforcement, concerns around girls’ safety, and fears around controlling girls’ sexuality or ‘honour’. In fragile and conflict-affected states, some additional, interconnected drivers are at work. These include: displacement, being out of school, threat or experience of violence, conflict or crisis fuelled poverty and food insecurity, conflict or crisis fuelled weakening of the rule of law and conflict or crisis fuelled strengthening of harmful social norms.

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Suggested Citation

Birchall, J. (2020). Child, early and forced marriage in fragile and conflict affected states. K4D Helpdesk Report 805. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.


20th April 2020


Continent: Africa, Asia

Country: Syria, Yemen