Child marriage and child betrothal customs occur in various times and places, whereby children are given in matrimony – before marriageable age as defined by the commentator and often before puberty. Today such customs are fairly widespread in parts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America: in former times it occurred also in Europe. It is frequently associated with arranged marriage. In some cases only one marriage-partner is a child, usually the female, due to importance placed upon female virginity, the inability of women to work for money and to women's shorter reproductive life period relative to men's. An increase in the advocacy ofhuman rights, whether as women's rights or as children's rights, has caused traditions of child Child marriages may depend upon socio-economic status. The aristocracy of some cultures, as in the European feudal era tended to use child marriage as a method to secure political ties. Families are able to cement political and/or financial ties by having their children marry. The betrothal is considered a binding contract upon the families and the children. The breaking of a betrothal can have serious consequences both for the families and for the betrothed individuals themselves.
In Arab and Altiac societies arranged marriages were and are common. Children are often married to create a period for the spouses to know each other before consummating marriage. Feelings of closeness and loyalty were encouraged during these early years or months.
Elsewhere, where daughters are considered a liability, it may be poorer people who tend to marry early. In Ashkenazi communities in the Middle Ages girls were married off very young in the Jewish community. Despite the young threshold for marriage a large age gap between the spouses was opposed. Child marriage was possible in Judaism due to the very low marriageable age for females. A ketannah (literally meaning little [one]) was any girl between the age of 3 years and that of 12 years plus one day; aketannah was completely subject to her father's authority, and her father could arrange a marriage for her without her agreement.