Over 3,600 marriage certificates were issued to children under the age of 18 between 2000 and 2018
Canada is at the forefront of global efforts to end child marriage abroad. Yet this practice remains legal and persists across the country. In Canada, more than 3,600 marriage certificates were issued to children, usually girls, under the age of 18 between 2000 and 2018, according to a new study from researchers at McGill University. In recent years, an increasing number of child marriages have been common-law unions.
Child marriage, defined as formal or informal (common-law) marriage before the age of 18, is a globally-recognized indicator of gender inequality because the negative consequences for health and personal development disproportionately affect girls. While much research has focused on developing countries, in wealthier nations like Canada, child marriage practices are overlooked and understudied.
Using data from vital statistics agencies and recent censuses, the researchers found that child marriage remains in practice from coast to coast, with the highest estimates of formal marriage found in Alberta (0.03%) and Manitoba (0.04%), and the highest estimates of any type of child marriage (formal or common-law) in Saskatchewan (0.5%) and the territories (1.7%). The study, published in Population and Development Review, is the first to shed light on how common child marriages are in the country.
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