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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

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07 May 2024

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Fiji Women's Rights Movement

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Stop Marriage For Children! Factsheet Published by FWRM analyses the Prevalence of Child Marriages in Fiji

12/12/2023

Today, the Fiji Women's Rights Movement releases a new situational analysis factsheet on early and forced child marriages in Fiji. The analysis factsheet covers existing laws, policies and commitments, as well as women's voices and experiences.

The analysis stems from the Fiji Bureau of Statistics 2022 released data showing that about 9% of women aged 20-29 years old were married off when they were under the age 18 years. For the Northern Division, the prevalence rate was much higher at 12%. These statistics are utterly unacceptable in today’s modern day and age. No child should be forced to marry, for whatever reason, especially a girl child.

Alarmed by the statistics, FWRM carried out a survey with 96 Fijian women across Fiji to understand why child marriages are still happening in Fiji. Among the responses, most of the women stated that unintended teenage pregnancies, poverty, low levels of education and high unemployment rates were key influencing factors inflicting forced marriage of children, especially for the girl child.

"Child marriages and forced marriages are violations of child protection and human rights. This widespread, harmful practice not only compromises a child’s development; it also severely limits their health, wellness, and opportunities in life. And yet, this is happening right here in Fiji and globally, where statistics show that at least 12 million girls per year are married before the age of 18,” Fiji Women's Rights Movement (FWRM) Executive Director, Nalini Singh said.

Ms. Singh added that Fiji has made international commitments via the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Universal Periodic Review (UPR) strengthening local laws relating to marriage through the Fiji Marriages Act (1978).

"These international commitments in addition to our Marriage Act basically means that it is illegal for anyone to compel any child to be married, whether by legal means or by performing rituals and traditions which carry the same social significance as a marriage. This also includes cultural and/or religious ceremonies intended to marry children under the age of 18 years old,” she said.

Prior to the release of this factsheet, FWRM had engaged in a dialogue with key stakeholders on the survey findings and FBoS data. The key stakeholders included government agencies, faith-based organisations and civil society who recognise that eradicating early and forced marriages in Fiji must be holistic approach starting with duty bearers and all service providers to recognise that child marriages are illegal in Fiji, and that all referral pathways, reporting, investigation and prosecuting child marriages must be carried out properly to ensure the protection of all girls.

The FWRM factsheet was developed to assist service providers, advocacy organisations, policy makers and legislators on quick facts about child marriage, in our efforts to create awareness about this pressing and unaddressed issue that threatens the potential and the capabilities of our budding young girls who dream of a bright future.

The publication of the factsheet is supported by the Australian Government through the We Rise Coalition in partnership with the International Women's Development Agency.                                                                                                                                                 

ENDS

For media queries please contact FWRM Communications Officer Serelisoni Moceica on 8677 330 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.