Child marriage in Lebanon

The prevalence of child marriage (defined as marriage before age 18) in Lebanon, from 2003-2013, is estimated to be 6.1 per cent[1]. However, with the influx of Syrian refugees, this number is likely much higher, with some reports indicating that as many as 50 per cent of Syrian refugees marry before the age of 18[2].

Legal instruments on child marriage in Lebanon

The age of legal marriage in Lebanon varies and is governed by 15 personal status laws for 18 of Lebanon’s religious denominations. Each of the country’s 18 recognized religious denominations have their own personal status laws and religious courts. The ages for marriage varies from one denomination to another and can range anywhere from the offset of puberty to 18. The age for marriage tends to be lower for females than males. Exceptions to marry under the legal age for marriage is provided for in all personal status codes of religious communities.[3]

The CEDAW and CRC Committees has repeatedly called upon Lebanon to adopt a unified personal status law ensuring that a legal age for marriage, the right to full consent and choice of spouse are in line with international legal standards.[4]

The National Commission for Lebanese Women developed a strategy on women (2011-2021), which includes areas of intervention on legislation, health, education and violence against women. The Commission also developed an action plan on the advancement of women (2013-2016). [5] The Higher Council for Childhood, supervised by the Ministry of Social Affairs, is the main body concerned with legislation, awareness-raising, and training on the rights of the child. There are numerous strategies for children including on education and protection from violence, but no comprehensive action plan for children.[6] Lebanon also adopted law 164 on trafficking in persons in 2011; however there exists no action plan to combat trafficking.[7]

[2] UN Women (2013) “Gender-based Violence and Child Protection among Syrian refugees in Jordan, with a focus on Early Marriage”. Accessed at Page 27

[3] United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA), Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development (2014). Lebanon Gender Profile. unpublished document.

[4] CEDAW, Lebanon, Concluding Observations, 8 April 2008, (CEDAW/C/LBN/CO/3); See also CRC/C/LBN/CO/3.