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Position statement and recommendations

Are existing laws on child, early and forced marriages and unions working for adolescent girls and young women?

Position statement and recommendations



For decades, passing laws that establish 18 years as the minimum legal age of marriage has been a cornerstone of advocacy efforts to prevent child, early and forced marriages and unions (CEFMU) and promote the rights of adolescent girls and young women. Regrettably, there has been minimal investment made in evaluating the impacts of such laws. The limited body of evidence that does exist fails to show that laws necessarily lead to reductions in CEFMU. More worryingly, a small yet credible body of research shows that, in some contexts, these laws have caused harm to adolescent girls and young women.

This should cause us all great concern. The CEFMU and Sexuality Working Group urges fellow advocates to heed the evidence. We call for investment in research that can teach us how laws can be better formulated and implemented to advance the rights of adolescent girls and young women. Laws should be seen as one element within comprehensive, intentionally designed, well-resourced systems that address the root causes and drivers of CEFMU in each context.

Read more about the evidence and our recommendations in our position statement below.

English_CEFMU law statement
Download PDF • 523KB

Español_CEFMU law statement
Download PDF • 529KB

Français_CEFMU law statement
Download PDF • 572KB

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