Photo credit: Stephan Gladieu | World Bank
Tasas de matrimonio infantil y uniones tempranas
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)
What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?
Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?
Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys. In Togo, child marriage is also driven by:
- Level of education: When girls do not achieve certain standards at school they are sometimes married off to older men in their village.
- Power dynamics: Forced marriage is reportedly common in the northern part of Togo and the Vogan region. This involves a lengthy negotiation process between families, taking into consideration religious traditions and dowry. Some parents marry off their daughters at a young age because they can reach more favourable arrangements while they are still virgins. If girls try to resist forced marriage, they face being banished from their families.
- Religion: In Muslim communities, girls are reportedly married off as young as 12 to men who are much older.
- Violence against girls: A 2010 study states that 40% of adolescent girls and young women have suffered from violence in their home. Some girls condone or justify violence, which demonstrates the extent to which patriarchy still dominates society.
- Pledged marriages: Although banned in the country’s Children’s Code, the pledging of children to marriage at a young age is reportedly still practiced in the Kara region and Dankpen prefecture.
What has this country committed to?
Togo has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. The government did not provide an update on progress towards this target during its Voluntary National Reviews at the 2016, 2017 or 2018 High Level Political Forums, the mechanism through which countries report their progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Togo co-sponsored the 2017 Human Rights Council resolution recognising the need to address child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian contexts.
Togo co-sponsored the 2013 and 2014 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage, and the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage. In 2014, Togo signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.
Togo ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1983, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.
In 1998 Togo ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, including Article 21 regarding the prohibition of child marriage.
In 2005 Togo ratified the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, including Article 6 which sets the minimum age for marriage as 18.
As a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Togo has adopted the Strategic Framework for Strengthening National Child Protection Systems under which protecting children from marriage is a priority.
During its 2016 Universal Periodic Review, Togo supported recommendations to prosecute all cases of child marriage and punish perpetrators according to the law.
In 2016 the UN Child Rights Committee expressed concern that child marriages are still widely practiced throughout Togo, and prosecution of those involved has not been given priority.
What is the government doing to address this at the national level?
The Togolese Ministries of Education, Gender and Health developed a National Programme Against Child Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy (2014-2019) which focuses on providing social protection to girls who are married as children.
The multi-sectoral approach centres on five areas:
- Improving legal frameworks
- Keeping adolescent girls in the education system
- Providing adolescent-friendly information and sexual and reproductive health services
- Encouraging adolescent girls’ leadership and strengthening the capacity of families, communities, traditional and religious leaders
- Coordination, advocacy, resource mobilisation and monitoring and evaluation.
With support from UNICEF, the Minister of Social Action and Gender led a National Forum on Ending Child Marriage in March 2016. Prior to the Forum, regional consultations with religious and traditional leaders were held which resulted in the adoption of an “additional commitment” to the 2013 declaration to accelerate efforts towards ending child marriage.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
Under the Code of the Child 2007 the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years. However it is possible to marry at 16 years for serious cause with permission from judicial and parental consent.
African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, [website], 2018, (accessed February 2018)
African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, [website], 2018, (accessed February 2018)
Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Togo: Forced marriage, particularly in Lomé, including its prevalence, the consequences of a refusal, and the treatment by society and the government of women who refuse a forced marriage; state protection and services, 2013,(accessed March 2018)
Ministère de la Planification, du Développement et de l’Aménagement du Territoire, Ministère de la Santé et ICF International, Enquête Démographique et de Santé au Togo 2013-2014, 2015, (accessed May 2018)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014, (accessed April 2018)
Plan International West Africa, Mariam from Togo escaped forced and early marriage, 2015, (accessed March 2018)
UN General Assembly, Compilation prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in accordance with paragraph 15 (b) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 and paragraph 5 of the annex to Council resolution 16/21 Togo, 2016, p.9, (accessed March 2018)
UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Togo, 2016, p.17, (accessed March 2018)
UN General Assembly, Summary prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in accordance with paragraph 15 (c) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 and paragraph 5 of the annex to Council resolution 16/21 Togo, 2016, (accessed March 2018)
United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, (accessed February 2018)
United States Agency for International Development, Report on a workshop on adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health in Togo, 2015, (accessed March 2018)
Organizaciones miembro en Togo
- Action Chrétienne pour le Développement Intégral de l’Enfance et de la Jeune Fille (ACDIEF)
- Agence Régionale pour l’Elimination de Toutes les Formes de Discrimination à l’Egard des Enfants (AREDEE)
- Association Creuset des Jeunes pour le Développement et l’Epanouissement Intégral des Population (ACJDEIP)
- Association des Amis des Enfants (AAE)
- Association des Volontaires pour la promotion des Jeunes Démunis (AVOPROJED)
- Carrefour de Développement
- Friends International Togo (FIT)
- Future Foundation
- ONG Dimension Humaine
- ONG Mouvement International Pour le Développement et l’Humanisme (ONG IMDH)
- ONG SOS-VITA
- Programme d’Appui à la Femme et à l’Enfance Déshéritée (PAFED)
- Réseau de Lutte contre la Traite des enfants au Togo (RELUTET)
- Réseau des organisations de lutte contre la maltraitance, les abus et exploitation sexuelle des enfants (Romaese)
- Youth Power (YP)