Girl Brides of Nepal


Poverty, lack of alternative options, and gender inequality all drive child marriage in Nepal. But the story which is all too often missing from development narratives is one which centres on young girls and the vulnerabilities and pressures they face when reaching a major cross road in their life — especially when both paths look uncertain. An absence of social safety nets and access to information means too many girls in Nepal continue to see child marriage as their only option.


The reality these girls face is often eloping with older men or young boys, leaving school, entering their husbands’ homes only to find they are now looking after his parents, cleaning their in-laws house, collecting fodder for their animals, working on their farm or at brick kilns in the blistering heat to earn money for his family, and having children so his parents can become grandparents. Family planning is often not even an option. Young girls are usually under pressure to have babies quickly to prove their fertility.


Many of these girls had never spoken to anyone about what they had been through out of embarrassment, shame, and self-blame. At the age of 14 no one should feel ashamed because of an ill-informed decision made thanks to peer pressure, poverty, or lack of information and advice. None of these girls had spoken to anyone, including their peers, about the difficulties and tragedies they had faced after they got married. So the cycle continues.