Nepal has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 41% of girls married before the age of 18.
As is often the case elsewhere, child marriage is more common in rural areas (54%) than urban areas (41%), and rates are particularly high in the hilly and mountainous regions. In certain ethnic groups, the rate of marriage before 15 can reach 83%.
Child marriage in Nepal is closely linked with traditions of certain ethnic and religious communities, as well as gender norms and expectations and economic considerations. Castes also play a role, as lower caste girls are generally under greater pressure than higher caste girls to marry while still at school.
Activists often cite the lack of educational opportunities and concerns for the security of girls as contributing factors.
The legal age of marriage since 2010 is 20 for both men and women, or 18 where the marriage is solemnised with the consent of the guardians, according to the Nepalese Country Code.
The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare is currently developing Nepal’s first national strategy on child marriage in collaboration with UNICEF Nepal and Girls Not Brides Nepal.
* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old.
* According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2015.