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Child marriage more prevalent than you might think

More than 100 countries allow children to wed

WASHINGTON — At least 116 nations allow children to marry, according to a new global survey released by the Washington-based Pew Research Center.

Data on 198 countries and territories shows that while most (153) require people who want to marry to be adults (18 or older), many of these same nations have an exemption to the law. For example: “In Australia, if a person is at least 18, their spouse can (with judicial approval) be as young as 16,” states a Pew Research Center news release. “In many other countries, such as Iraq, Jamaica and Uruguay, children can marry with parental permission.”

Six countries do not specify a minimum age for marriage (Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen), and even those that allow minors to wed, minimum age requirements are often ignored.

In Canada, you can legally marry at 16 with parental consent. At 18, no consent is required in any province, except British Columbia, where an individual must be 19 to wed without parental permission.

Christian Children’s Fund of Canada works with local partners around the world to end child marriage through education and community outreach.