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In the Asia and Pacific region, 23 million adolescents aged 15-19 years are currently married or in union. Child marriage and early union (formal or informal, before the age of 18 years) is common throughout much of the region, with the highest prevalence in South Asia and some Pacific countries.The legal age of marriage should be 18, and all countries should enact legislation to prohibit forced marriage and remove exemptions that allow nonconsensual child marriage. However, treating all unions under the age of 18 years as forced and invalid can have harmful consequences. Enforcement of laws can cause harm to the girls we are intending to protect. Understanding the different forms of early marriage and union in the context of adolescent development and agency is critical to ensuring the implementation of child marriage legislation does not cause harm.

For more information, see the full report that highlights the current status of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and examines key SRHR priorities in Asia and the Pacific to support informed policy, programming and advocacy.