Throughout this knowledge module, reference to certain provisions or sections of a piece of legislation, part of a legal judgment, or aspect of a practice does not imply that the legislation, judgment, or practice is considered in its entirety to be a good example or a promising practice.

Some of the laws cited herein may contain provisions which authorize the death penalty. In light of the United Nations General Assembly resolutions 62/14963/16865/206, and 67/176 calling for a moratorium on and ultimate abolition of capital punishment, the death penalty should not be included in sentencing provisions for crimes of violence against women and girls.

Other Provisions Related to Domestic Violence LawsResources for Developing Legislation on Domestic Violence
Sexual Harassment in Sport Tools for Drafting Sexual Harassment Laws and Policies
Immigration Provisions Resources for developing legislation on sex trafficking of women and girls
Child Protection Provisions Resources on Forced and Child Marriage
Other provisions related to dowry-related and domestic violence laws
Related Tools

Core Elements of Legislation on Forced and Child Marriage

Last edited: January 27, 2011

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The following elements should be established as the core elements of any law on forced and child marriage:

  • The free and full consent of both parties;
  • A minimum age for marriage of 18 years of age for both parties;
  • Recognition of and prohibition against the various forms of forced marriage and related harmful practices, including: child marriage, situations of sexual slavery and forced labor, bride kidnapping, trafficking of women and girls, wife inheritance, marriage as settlement or payment, international marriage brokering, and polygamy;
  • A system for the registration of all marriages, births and deaths;
  • Granting the same legal status to parties in customary and/or religious marriages as those in civil marriages;
  • Criminal penalties for violation of the law;
  • Civil remedies for victims;
  • The legal consequences of a forced or child marriage (automatic annulment or right to no-fault divorce);
  • Public education campaigns about human rights, women’s rights and laws on forced and child marriage aimed at raising awareness in both urban and rural areas; and
  • Trainings for all relevant agencies; the legal sector, including judges, prosecutors, law enforcement; advocates; social services; education, and; third-sector support agencies regarding human rights standards on forced and child marriage.