This brief provides an overview of child marriage as well as the particulars of child marriage in Ethiopia. This landlocked East African nation is home to more than 70 million people, with 44 percent of its population under age 15. Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world; approximately 81 percent of its population live on less than US$2 a day. Life expectancy has fallen to 42 years, owing to recurrent food shortages, ongoing clashes, and a growing HIV epidemic. Ethiopia has one of the most severe crises of child marriage in the world today. The legal age of marriage is 18 for both males and females but is widely ignored. Ethiopia is the site of some of the most abusive marital practices, such as marriage by abduction and forced unions between cousins. Another harmful practice is female genital circumcision, which affects some 80 percent of Ethiopian women. More than half of circumcisions occur before a girl’s first birthday. Included in this brief are recommendations to promote later, chosen, and legal marriage.
"Child marriage briefing: Ethiopia." New York: Population Council, 2005.