2018: police launch investigation into 180 cases of early marriage in Georgia

Georgia has one of the highest rates of early marriage in Europe. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge. 

Agenda.ge, 18 Oct 2019 - 11:50, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Georgian Interior Ministry reports that they launched investigations into 180 cases of early marriage last year, adding that law enforces were informed regarding the incidents only several months after they took place on average. 

The ministry says that they are continuing their campaign called ‘Do not take away my childhood’ to prevent child and early marriage through raising public awareness regarding the issue and the importance of addressing the police in a timely manner.

The campaign involves a range of activities in the capital and regions, meeting with the local population, pupils and teachers. State agencies, the Public Defender’s Office, NGOs and organisations working on human rights issues will participate in the events,” the ministry said. 

Early/child marriage – defined as a union, whether formal or informal, involving at least one person who is below 18 years of age – is a phenomenon that affects the lives of both girls and boys, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says. 

A report released by UNFPA Georgia back in 2017 reads that 14 per cent of women marry before the age of 18 in Georgia, “constituting one of Europe’s highest rates of early/child marriage.” 

Chart by UNFPA Georgia. 

The findings by the UN agency say that early marriage is a problem both in the capital and in the regions.

While some participants and key informants perceived that early/child marriage only occurs in rural sites or among ethnic minorities, our findings found this perception to be biased and could be attributed to the fact that there were more mentions of earlier age of marriage of girls in certain ethnic minority groups,” the report said. 

One of the major conclusions of the report was that economic factors contributed to early/child marriage in the country, stating that challenges with economic circumstances that create obstacles for obtaining an education and consequentially employment “was considered as a strong reason for choosing marriage as a path.” 

The minimum legal age for marriage in Georgia is 18. 

Before 2016 young couples were able to get married with parental consent at the age of 16. However, the amendment made to the law in December 2016 made it impossible without the consent of the court ‘only for good reason’ – in the case of pregnancy or childbirth. 

The Georgian National Statistics Office has announced plans to provide statistics on early and child marriage in the country.