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For the 2005 American film documentary, see Child Marriage (film).
Small child brides in India
Child marriage and child betrothal customs occur in various times and places, whereby children are given in matrimony - before marriageable age as defined by the commentator and often before puberty. Today such customs are fairly widespread in parts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America: in former times it occurred also in Europe. It is frequently associated with arranged marriage. In some cases only one marriage-partner is a child, usually the female, due to importance placed upon female virginity, the inability of women to work for ...view middle of the document...
Elsewhere, where daughters are considered a liability, it may be poorer people who tend to marry early.
Child marriage by region
Entering into marriage
Prenuptial agreement Marriage
Legal states similar
Cohabitation Civil union
Dissolution of marriage
Legal separation (Alimony)
Issues affecting children
Adoption Child abduction
Child abuse Child custody
Child Protective Services (United States)
Contact (including visitation)
Emancipation of minors Foster care
Grandparent visitation Legal guardian
Legitimacy Parental responsibility
Parenting coordinator Parenting plan
Residence in English family law Ward
Conflict of laws
Divorce Marriage Nullity
International child abduction (Convention)
Domestic violence Incest
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In Jewish Ashkenazi communities in the Middle Ages, girls were married off very young. Despite the young threshold for marriage a large age gap between the spouses was opposed. Child marriage was possible in Judaism due to the very low marriageable age for females. A ketannah (literally meaning little [one]) was any girl between the age of 3 years and that of 12 years plus one day; a ketannah was completely subject to her father's authority, and her father could arrange a marriage for her without her agreement. If the father was dead or missing the brothers of the ketannah, collectively, had the right to arrange a marriage for her, as had her mother, although in these situations a ketannah would always have the right to annul her marriage even if it was the first. According to the Talmud a father is commanded not to marry his daughter to anyone until she grows up and says 'I want this one'. A marriage that takes place without the consent of the girl is not an effective legal marriage. If the marriage did end (due to divorce or the husband's death), any further marriages were optional; the ketannah had the right to annul them. The choice of a ketannah to annul a marriage, known in Hebrew as mi'un (literally meaning refusal/denial/protest), lead to a true annulment, not a divorce; a divorce document (get) was not necessary, and a ketannah who did this was not regarded by legal regulations as a divorcee, in relation to the marriage. Unlike divorce, mi'un was regarded with distaste by many rabbinic writers, even in the Talmud; in earlier classical Judaism, one major faction - the House of Shammai - argued that such annulment rights only existed during the betrothal period (erusin) and not once the actual marriage (nissu'in) had begun.
Despite many poor countries enacting marriageable age laws to limit marriage to a minimum age of 16 to 18, depending on jurisdiction, traditional marriages of girls of...