Mauritania - Child Marriage Tradition Turns into Trafficking
Monday, December 22, 2008 11:24 AM

Child marriage, once common only in rural areas of Mauritania, is spreading to cities, according to a report by the UN’s IRIN news network. Families can make significant sums of money (up to tens of thousands of dollars) for selling their children to men in Arab countries.

Although the legal age for marriage is 18 in this West African nation, many people believe that marrying a girl as young as six is acceptable, as long as the husband does not touch her until she reaches puberty. Statistics on the number of married minors is unknown because such marriages are typically not recorded as official marriages. UNICEF reported that between 1987 and 2006, 42 percent of rural children and 32 percent of urban children in Mauritania were married.

According to UNICEF, child marriage has many negative consequences for girls including a lack of education, poor health (including reproductive), and abuse.

Compiled from: Mauritania: Child Marriage Tradition Turns into Trafficking, IRIN News, 9 December 2008; Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse, UNICEF, last accessed 22 December 2008; The State of the World’s Children 2008, UNICEF, December 2007.