Socio-cultural and Religious Framings on Marriageable Age in Amhara Regional State


  • Yitaktu Tibebu Ph.D. Candidate at Center for Human Rights, AAU
  • Meron Zeleke Associate Professor at Addis Ababa University Center for Human Rights
  • Wouter Vandenhole Professor at the Law and Development Research Group of the University of Antwerp’s Law Faculty



child Marriage, marriageable age, Ethiopia


Existing literature shows the social perception attached to child marriage is often conflicting with the legal definition. This insight holds the dichotomized view of layering contestation in two levels: the internal community against the external norm change agents of the state and non-state actors. Accordingly, this article attempts to identify the gap in research by exploring and documenting the internal contestation among local key norm holders on their understanding of marriageable age. By taking a closer look at how religious leaders, community elders, parents, and adolescent girls and boys in Kuwarit woreda of Amhara Regional State comprehend marriage and girls' marriageable age, the article unpacks the translation of the globally defined girls' marriageable age to a local context. After exploring the international laws vis-à-vis local social norms, the article presented competing and changing local considerations and framings on the age of marriage for girls and their justification. It, then, argues rectifying the fears of local norm holders in relation to delaying girls’ marriage until legally accepted age is important and necessary by understanding the socio-cultural and religious framing of girls’ marriage.