Child marriage around the world:

Child marriage around the world:


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.

Legal age of marriage

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.

National initiative to end child marriage

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.


  • Status of Women and Early Age at Marriage in Nepal: Population and Development Journal. Ministry of Population and Environment: July 1999
  • UNICEF Discussion Paper, Early Marriage, 2009.

UNICEF 2015 % Married by 15
UNICEF 2015 % Married by 18

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old.

International Ranking 2015*


* According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2015.

More from Nepal

  • Child marriages, trafficking will soar after Nepal quake – charity (Thomson Reuters Foundation)
  • By girls, for girls: Nepal’s teenagers say no to child marriage (IPS News)
  • Nepal’s child grooms suffer in physical, emotional ways (LA Times)
  • The sad hidden plight of child grooms (The Daily Beast)
  • Analysis: Why child marriage persists in Nepal (IPS News)

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