Child marriage

Facing a dark reality: child marriage is happening in Canada

3,600 child marriage certificates were issued in Canada between 2000 and 2018 alone

Child marriage is happening legally and illegally in Canada. This country is failing to protect children from abuse and neglect by continuing to allow these marriages.

Since 2016, 2,300 children in Canada between the ages of 15 and 17 were in a union—the vast majority being informal, common-law unions.

The Canadian government works to end child marriage in other countries, so why do we allow it to occur here? Child marriage is still legal and informal unions are increasing.

Canada’s federal Civil Marriage Act allows young people aged 16 and above to marry with parental consent or a court order.

Consider what the future can be for a child married this young.

Married children face:

  • Increased vulnerability to sexual exploitation, disproportionately so for girls
  • Increased risk of health problems due to early sexual activity and pregnancy
  • Increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS
  • Lower levels of educational attainment
  • Increased chance of domestic abuse
  • Higher rates of divorce or abandonment that can result in acute poverty

UNICEF statistics show, if pre-pandemic trends continue, 150 million more girls around the world will marry as children by 2030. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this may increase by 10 million more girls.

What we do matters

Beyond Borders is increasing awareness to mobilize support for preventing the abuse and exploitation of minors. We work to improve laws to protect victims and uphold the rights of children in Canada and abroad.

Every child has the right to have greater safety, security, and autonomy in the world. Not only should they be protected, but given every opportunity to heal from abuse.

February 22nd marks National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Canada

Child marriage can sometimes constitute child trafficking, often planned and carried out by family members. For example, underage Canadian girls have been trafficked between the U.S. and Canada for marriages within polygamous communities.

Join us in spreading awareness and taking action on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

A man was convicted of trafficking a 15-year-old girl to the U.S. for a marriage with an older man. The court said the perpetrator knew that girl would be subjected to sexual contact.
Read about it here

Take action today

Take 5 minutes now to send an email to the Minister of Justice of Canada to amend the federal Civil Marriage Act. We’ve made it easy for you: this email template asks to make the absolute minimum allowable age for marriage no younger than 18-years-old, just fill out the form and hit send:

Help fund Beyond Borders’ public awareness programs, child advocacy efforts, and deeper research into the realities of child exploitation.