“She goes with me in my boat”: Child and Adolescent Marriage in Brazil

Brazil – like the rest of Latin America – has been absent from many global discussions and actions around child and adolescent marriage, which largely focus on hotspot areas such as those in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The available evidence within the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region, however, shows prevalence levels of child marriage are highest in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Brazil and that absolute numbers are highest in Brazil.

This study, the first of its kind in Brazil, explores attitudes and practices around child and adolescent marriage in Pará and Maranhão, two Brazilian states with highest prevalence of the practice. The results confirm the mostly informal and consensual nature of unions involving girls under the age of 18 in the settings studied. The analysis highlights the ways in which a child or adolescent marriage may create or exacerbate risk factors (i.e., related to health, education, security) while often being perceived by girls or family members as offering stability in settings of economic insecurity and limited opportunities.