Photo credit: Jane Mingay | Girls Not Brides
Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
UNICEF 2017 % 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 (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)
Nepal has made important steps over the past few years to promote gender equality, but the country still has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. 37% of Nepalese girls are married before the age of 18.
The 2015 earthquakes devastated the country and left girls and women in an increasingly vulnerable position, leading to fears that child marriage rates may increase over the next year.
Poverty is both a cause and consequence of child marriage in Nepal. Girls from the wealthiest families marry 2 years later than those from the poorest, who are more likely to be seen as an economic burden, drop out of school and earn little money.
Food insecurity plays a key role too. Nepalese families that do not have enough food to eat are more likely to marry their daughters at a young age to ensure their security and decrease the financial burden. One study shows that 91% of people who were food secure married over the age of 19.
Dowry is also common practice in many communities and is particularly strong in the Terai region, with parents marrying their daughters off at a young age to avoid a higher dowry price.
CARE have highlighted that trafficking, whereby criminals prey on orphaned children and parents, is part of the reason for the rise in child marriage rates after the 2015 earthquakes.
Legal age of marriage
The legal age of marriage is 20 for both men and women, according to the Nepalese Country Code.
The law states that punishment for child marriage is imprisonment for up to three years and a fine of up to 10,000 rupees (£102).
National initiative to end child marriage
The Government of Nepal, under the leadership of the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, began to develop its strategy in March 2014 with the support of UNICEF Nepal and Girls Not Brides Nepal, among others.
The development of the national strategy was informed by a literature review, consultations at the national and district level, as well as formative research in six districts with high child marriage rates.
However, the post-earthquake and post-fuel crisis environment has delayed the development of a national action plan throughout 2015. The government is developing a costed national action plan, which is due to be finalised by February 2017.
Commitments to end child marriage
- At the Girl Summit in July 2014, the Nepal Government committed to strive to end child marriage by 2020.
- Nepal is a member of the South Asian Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC), which adopted a regional action plan to end child marriage. The regional action plan is to be implemented in 2015 – 2018.
UNICEF-UNFPA Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage
Nepal is a focus country of the UNICEF-UNFPA Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage, a multi-donor, multi-stakeholder programme working across 12 countries over four years.
National Partnership in Nepal
Girls Not Brides Nepal is the official Girls Not Brides National Partnership in Nepal.
Members In Nepal
- Aama Milan Kendra (AMK)
- Center for Research on Environment Health and Population Activities (CREHPA)
- Child Welfare Society
- Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Centre (CWIN)
- Console Mission
- EcoHimal Nepal
- Educate the Children (ETC)
- Her Turn
- Janaki Women Awareness Society (JWAS)
- Kapilvastu Integrated Development Services (KIDS)
- Little Sisters Fund
- Loo Niva Child Concern Group
- Protection Nepal
- Public Awareness Campaign Nepal
- READ Global
- Restless Development
- Rural Women’s Network Nepal (RUWON)
- Sakcham Rural Nepal
- Samrakshak Samuha Nepal (SASANE)
- Sankalpa Community Based Rehabilitation
- Social Awareness Concerned Forum Nepal Banke (SAC)
- Society for Local Integrated Development (SOLID) Nepal
- Surya Nepal
- VSO International
- Newsdeeply, The Teen Brides of Nepal, 2017
- Global citizen, Nepal earthquake is increasing child marriages, 2015
- Plan International, Child Marriage after the Earthquake, 2015
- Plan Nepal, Save the Children, World Vision International Nepal, and Society for Local Integrated Development (SOLID) Nepal, Child Marriage Research Report 2012
- UNFPA, Child Marriage Profiles: Nepal, 2012
- UNICEF, Nepal Working Paper Series, Cost of Inaction: Child and Adolescent Marriage in Nepal, 2014
- UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2016