Child marriage as a choice: rethinking agency in international human rights

Child marriage as a choice: rethinking agency in international human rights
Hoko Horii


In the recent international campaigns against child marriage, there is a puzzle of agency: while international human rights institutions celebrate when girls exercise their agency not to marry, they do not recognize their agency to marry. ‘Child marriage’, defined as “any formal marriage or informal union where one or both of the parties are under 18 years of age”, is considered always forced, assuming that children are not capable of consenting to marriages. In order to re-examine, reflect, and discuss this approach to agency, this dissertation offers empirical evidence of child marriage, based on findings from the author’s fieldwork in Indonesia. Why children marry and how this practice both informs, and is treated within, multiple competing normative frameworks in place? The dissertation starts from analysing child marriage discourse at the international level, moves to discuss the political contestation over child marriage at the national level (Indonesia), and then investigates child marriage as a social practice on the Indonesian island of Bali.This is a socio-legal study of international human rights, which contributes to the scholarly field of human rights and children’s rights by using ideas from the other disciplines in social science.


Hoko Horii

Defended in


PhD defended at

Leiden Law School, Leiden University / KITLV Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies


Social Sciences




Human Rights