Nepal ranks 18th with the highest absolute numbers of child marriage in the world
KATHMANDU - Nepal ranks 18th with the highest absolute numbers of child marriage in the world. According to Girls Not Brides organization, 523,000 women aged between 20 to 24 were married before the age of 18. The data is astounding because 37% of Nepali girls get married before 18. The legal age to marry in Nepal is 20.
Despite the numbers Nepal has gradually reduced child marriage but challenges remain. Young girls have been exposed to exploitation after the 2015 earthquake. Poverty and education are other factors that push girls to wed in an early age.
Although the law in Nepal states that anyone found guilty of child marriage is sentenced to three years of prison term and made to pay Rs 10, 000, child marriage remains visible.
"Hamro Palo is working with adolescent girls in schools in rural and remote villages of Sindhupalchok, Gorkha, and Jumla. We organize 4 weeks long Her Turn workshop led by local women as trainers. The workshop includes child marriage as one of the subjects that need special attention and intervention in post-earthquake context because due to various factors child marriage or early marriage/underage marriage is increasing in alarming rate. Some of the reasons for early marriage that we learned from our research and workshop are extreme poverty, insecurity particularly for girls, misuse of technology such as mobile phone and social media and lack of knowledge about legal minimum age for marriage. Our intervention to stop child/early/forced and underage marriage include education and empowerment program, a mentorship program and advocacy. Till the end of 2016, we have worked with 33 schools in 15 VDCs in Sindhupalchowk reaching out to 2117 adolescents girls. In Gorkha, we have worked in 11 schools in 5 VDCs with 1114 beneficiaries and in Jumla, we worked in 1 school in GhodeMahadev VDC with 48 beneficiaries. This issue has been one of our main focus areas and we will be working to fight against such harmful practices, however, strong coordination among government agencies, schools, community organizations and leaders is important," said Anita Thapa, Executive Director of Her Turn.
Nepal has made significant progress as The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare has adopted a national policy to end child marriage. Nepal also has been selected to be part of UNFPA and UNICEF’s Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage.