Child, Early and Forced Marriage and Union (CEFMU)

MHPSS recommendations for cross-sectoral themes

Child, early, and forced marriage and union (CEFMU) has serious consequences for the short- and long-term mental health and well-being of girls and, to a lesser extent, boys.

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Child, early, forced marriage and union (CEFMU) impacts both males and, disproportionately, females with and without disabilities. Girls married as children are at increased risk of emotional distress, depression symptoms and suicidality induced by their exposure to SGBV and the burden of handling marital responsibilities at an early age.[1] Children with disabilities may be married even earlier than their peers, [2] as parents may fear leaving their child without proper care and may seek a spouse to provide that care (Samuel 2008Clawson and Vallance 2010).

Integrated MHPSS/CEFMU programmes should be based on an analysis of the societal, cultural, and religious drivers of CEFMU in the context. Programme design should focus both on preventing CEFMU and ensuring married girls can access their full and equal rights. MHPSS interventions should tackle the four main drivers of emotional distress for girls facing early and/or forced marriage and union:  SGBV, poverty, challenges in childbirth and isolation.[3]

Child, Early and Forced Marriage and Union (CEFMU)

[1] SCI (2021, Preventing and responding to CEFMU

[2] Rauf, B., Saleem, N., Clawson, R., Sanghera, M., & Marston, G. (2013). Forced marriage: Implications for mental health and intellectual disability services. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 19(2), 135-143. doi:10.1192/apt.bp.111.009316

[3] Burgess R.A and al (2020).  Overlooked and Unaddressed: A narrative review of mental health consequences of child marriages. UCL