top of page
Asian Institute of Research, Journal Publication, Journal Academics, Education Journal, Asian Institute
Asian Institute of Research, Journal Publication, Journal Academics, Education Journal, Asian Institute

Law and Humanities
Quarterly Reviews

ISSN 2827-9735

Judge Gavel
 Scales of Justice
City Crowds
People in Library
open access

Published: 26 June 2024

Capacity to Marry: The Minimum Age for Marriage in Cameroon and its Compliance with International Standards

Pierrette Essama-Mekongo

University of Yaounde II, Cameroon

asia institute of research, journal of education, education journal, education quarterly reviews, education publication, education call for papers
pdf download

Download Full-Text Pdf



Pages: 60-71

Keywords: Capacity to Marry, Minimum Age for Marriage, International Standards, Cameroonian Law


The Preamble of the Constitution of Cameroon Indent 17 affirms the Nation’s aim to protect and promote the family which is the natural foundation of human society as well as protecting women and the young. Families generally start with marriage. Protecting the family therefore implies protecting marriage which goes by setting rules for its validity and maintenance. For a marriage to be valid, parties must fulfil formalities and have capacity. Capacity to marry determines whether an individual may legally be entitled to get married or not. The minimum age for marriage is a key component of capacity to marry as no marriage is valid if contracted under that age. This stems from the fact that age determines other criteria such as the capacity to give valid consent and to comprehend marriage’s commitments. Setting the minimum age for marriage is a requirement enshrined in all relevant international human rights instruments ratified by Cameroon. The question is as to whether Cameroon’s domestic law on marriage complies with international standards. In order to tackle that question, the exegetic method has been used to extract the contents of the relevant international and national instruments, analyse and interpret them in order to determine whether and, if so, to what extent the Cameroonian law on marriage complies with international standards relating to the minimum age for marriage. It is found out that while Cameroonian law complies with some aspects of international standards, it is still lacking in others and that, the only solution is to amend the existing law so that it may fully comply with international precepts.


African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of Children of 11 July 1990.
Anggreni, D., Notobroto, H.B., Soedirha, O. (2023). Determinants factors of early marriage in developing countries: A literature review. Journal of Public Health in Africa. Volume 14(s2):2543. DOI:
Attorney General v. Rebeca Z. Gyumi (Civil Appeal 204 of 2017) [2019] TZCA 348 (23 October 2019).
Bakhtibekova, Z. (2014). Early girls’ marriage in Tajikistan: Causes and continuity. [Ph.D. Thesis]. University of Exeter.
Child Frontiers Ltd. (2015). Qualitative study of child Marriage in six districts of Zambia. At
Cislaghi, B., Mackie, G., Nkwi, P. & Shakya, H. (2019). “Social norms and child marriage in Cameroon: An application of the theory of normative spectrum”. Global Public Health. 14:10, DOI: 10.1080/17441692.2019.1594331.
Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages of 10 December 1962.
Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women of 18 December 1979.
Convention on the Rights of the Child of 30 November 1989.
De Schutter, O. (2019). International human rights law. Third edition. Cambridge University Press.
Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 28 February 1924.
El Kobrousli, N. (2019). The Lebanese legal system’s contribution to child marriage. [M.A. Thesis]. Columbia University.
Essama-Mekongo, P. (2024). “Reflections on the continuous application of “foreign law” in Former West Cameroon”. Revue Africaine des Réflexions Juridiques et Politiques. Vol 3 -N°2.
Frimpong Oppong, R. (2006). Re-imagining international law: An examination of recent trends in the reception of international law into national legal systems in Africa. Fordham International Law Journal, Vol 30 (2).
Girls Not Brides. (2024). Cameroon at
Human Rights Watch. (2014). “I’ve never experienced happiness”. Child marriage in Malawi. ISBN: 978-1-62313-1098.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16 December 1966.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 16 December 1966.
Kohno A, Dahlui M, Nik Farid ND, Safi, R. and Nakayama, T. (2019). In depth examination of issues surrounding the reasons for child marriage in Kelantan, Malaysia: A Qualitative study. BMJ Open. 9:e027377. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2018-027377.
Kotze, M. (2020). Is the difference in minimum legal ages of marriage for girls and boys in South Africa a violation of equality? [MPhil Thesis]. University of Pretoria.
Law n° 2004/004 of 21 April 2004 relating to the Organisation and Functioning of the Constitutional Council as amended by Law N°2012/15 of 21 December 2012.
Law N° 96/06 of 18 January 1996 to amend the Constitution of 2 June 1972.
Law N°2016/007 of 12 July 2016 relating to the Penal Code.
Law n°67/LF/1 of 12 June 1967 relating to the Penal Code as amended.
Law of Marriage Act N°5 of 1971 of Tanzania.
Lebni, J.Y., Solhi, M., Azar, F.E.F., Farahani, F.K., and Irandoost, S.F. (2023). Exploring the consequences of early marriage: A conventional content analysis. The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing.Volume 60: 1–14.
Mafhala, V.R. (2015). Child marriage practice: A cultural gross violation of human rights of girls in a free South Africa. [MPhil Thesis]. University of Pretoria.
Maswikwa, B., Richter, L., Kaufman, J. and Nandi, A. (2016). “Lois sur l’âge minimum du mariage et prévalence du mariage précoce et de la maternité à l’adolescence : Données d’Afrique subsaharienne”. Perspectives Internationales sur la Santé Sexuelle et Génésique. Numéro spécial. doi: 10.1363/FR02916.
Menkiawi, E.N. (2023). Reducing child marriage in Cameroon: Case of Tignere Sub-Division, Adamawa Region, Cameroon. [Master’s Thesis]. Seoul National University.
Mwakyambiki, S. E. (2023). Gender implications of child marriage: Reflection from Section 13 of the Law of Marriage Act No. 5 of 1971. East Africa Journal of Social and Applied Sciences, 5(1): 1-13.
Ordinance No. 81 – 02 of 29 June 1981 on Civil Status Registration as amended.
Owohunwa, F.O. (2018). Extent, experiences and perceptions on the practice of child marriage in Northern Nigeria. [Ph.D. Thesis]. University of Leeds.
Protocol to the African charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa of 11 July 2003.
Ramnath, P. (2015). Are traditional African practices relating to child marriages in the face of HIV/AIDS in violation to the South African legal framework?. [MPhil Thesis], University of the Western Cape.
Suyanto, B. Sugihartati, R., Hidayat, M.A., Egalita, N. and Mas’udah, S. (2023). The causes and impacts of early marriage: The ordeal of girls in East Java, Indonesia. Sociologia, Problemas e Práticas. 101.
UNFPA. (2004). Child Marriage Advocacy Programme: Fact Sheet on Child Marriage and Early Union.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948.
Zaher, Z. (2013). The problematic socialization of child marriage in Afghanistan: Perceptions, challenges, and possibilities for social change. [M.A. Thesis]. Ohio University.

bottom of page