Nepal is among the top 10 countries with highest rates of child marriage, in which one in every three children are married before their 15th birthday, according to a United Nations report.
A report titled ‘Ending Child Marriage — Progress and Prospects’ which was released by the UNICEF today during the ongoing first ever ‘Girl Summit’ in London, highlighted that Nepal has the ninth highest prevalence of child marriage in the world with one in every three child brides living in the country.
Nearly 18 per cent of women aged 20 to 49 years were married before age of 15 while about 34 per cent of women were married or in union after age 15 but before they turned 18 in Nepal, the report highlighted.
“In Nepal, for example, over one third of women aged 20 to 24 who married before their 15th birthday had three or more children compared to one per cent of women who married as adults. Child brides are also less likely to receive proper medical care while pregnant,” said the report, adding that women who married as adults were at least twice as likely to have delivered their most recent baby in a health facility compared to women who married before age 15 in countries including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nepal and Niger.
“This, along with the fact that girls are not physically mature enough to give birth, places both mothers and their babies at risk.”
The report further said that nearly 36 per cent of women aged 20 to 24 years have had three or more children as they wed before age 15 in Nepal.
Niger, Bangladesh, Chad, Mali, Central African Republic, India, Guinea, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Nepal are the top 10 countries with the highest rates of child marriage respectively, the UN children’s agency said in its report.
“Girls who wed under 18 are less likely to be in school and more vulnerable to domestic violence and maternal mortality, the report said, adding South Asia is home to almost half (42 per cent) of all child brides worldwide and India alone accounts for one third of the global total,” the report said. The Girl Summit jointly organised by the UK government and UNICEF aims to tackle female genital mutilation and child marriage as UNICEF predicted there could be 280 million girls who are compelled to be brides before 18. According to the organisers, activists, politicians and campaigners gathered in London for the first ‘Girl Summit’ in a joint attempt to mobilise international efforts to end FGM and child marriage.
During the summit, 20 governments including Nepal endorsed charter which states: no one should be forced into marriage, or made to marry while still a child and no girl or women should have to endure the physical and psychological effects of female genital mutilation.