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Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Joint general recommendation/general comment No. 31 of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and No. 18 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on harmful practices

‘20. Child marriage, also referred to as early marriage, is any marriage where at least one of the parties is under 18 years of age. The overwhelming majority of child marriages, both formal and informal, involve girls, although at times their spouses are also under 18 years of age. A child marriage is considered to be a form of forced marriage, given that one and/or both parties have not expressed full, free and informed consent. As a matter of respecting the child’s evolving capacities and autonomy in making decisions that affect her or his life, a marriage of a mature, capable child below 18 years of age may be allowed in exceptional circumstances, provided that the child is at least 16 years of age and that such decisions are made by a judge based on legitimate exceptional grounds defined by law and on the evidence of maturity, without deference to culture and tradition.‘
‘23. Forced marriages are marriages in which one and/or both parties have not personally expressed their full and free consent to the union. They may be manifested in various forms, including child marriage, as indicated above, exchange or trade-off marriages (i.e. baadand baadal), servile marriages and levirate marriages (coercing a widow to marry a relative of her deceased husband). In some contexts, a forced marriage may occur when a rapist is permitted to escape criminal sanctions by marrying the victim, usually with the consent of her family. Forced marriages may occur in the context of migration in order to ensure that a girl marries within the family’s community of origin or to provide extended family members or others with documents to migrate to and/or live in a particular destination country. Forced marriages are also increasingly being used by armed groups during conflict or may be a means for a girl to escape post-conflict poverty. Forced marriage may also be defined as a marriage in which one of the parties is not permitted to end or leave it. Forced marriages often result in girls lacking personal and economic autonomy and attempting to flee or commit self-immolation or suicide to avoid or escape the marriage.‘