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Kazakhstan’s child marriage rate stands at 4.5 percent, according to the latest Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey published by the country’s Agency of Statistics, UNICEF and UNFPA. This means that nearly one in twenty teenage girls between the age of 15 and 19 is married or in union.

“Although this is not a particular high number in comparison to other countries in the region, every effort must be made to fully eradicate the practice of child marriage,” said Nikolai Botev, UNFPA’s Country Director in Kazakhstan.

“Child marriage is a human rights abuse that constitutes a grave threat to young girls’ lives, health and future prospects,” he added.

Among the risks married teenagers face are complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, one of the main causes of death among 15–19 year-old girls. In Kazakhstan, teenage girls in this age group give birth to 20,000 children every year, which equals a birth rate of 29.4 per 1000 girls, according to official data. The rates are significantly higher in rural than in urban areas.

The new data also sheds light on the incidence of abortion, a major factor impacting both women’s and children’s survival and health. While the general abortion rate in Kazakhstan is 20.7 per 1000 women aged 15-49, it stands at 1.0 among girls aged 15 to 19.

The survey revealed that 49 percent of women who are currently married or in union do not use any method of contraception. This includes a large number of fecund and sexually active women, almost 12 percent, who do not want any more children or wish to delay the birth of their next child but are not using any method of contraception. This shows that there are high unmet needs for family planning in Kazakhstan.

According to the survey, nearly 13 percent of married women aged 15 to 49 experienced physical violence; 3.2 percent were subject to sexual violence. Very few women, less than one percent, seek professional help after being exposed to violence.

The survey confirms that Kazakhstan has made significant progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5, improving maternal health, with almost universal antenatal care coverage and access to skilled birth attendance.

Related resources

Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, 2010/11 (pdf)