The prevalence of child marriages is decreasing globally, according to UNICEF, with Sri Lanka having one of the lowest child marriage rates in South Asia.

However, the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) notes that there is a high prevalence of child marriages within some communities, estimating that between 16,000 and 24,000 boys and girls under the age of 18 were married or living together in 2014.

The UNCRC and UNICEF have urged the government to take necessary steps to eliminate child marriages, while UNICEF will continue to encourage the prioritisation of girls’ education to tackle cultural and social norms.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) look to eliminate the practice of child marriages by 2030 but will require a redoubling of efforts to achieve this aim, according to UNICEF Principal Advisor – Gender and Development Anju Malhotra.