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She said she had no knowledge of pregnancy and reproductive health or family planning, and wishes she had not gotten pregnant. © 2016 Smita Sharma for Human Rights Watch Thirty-seven percent of girls in Nepal marry before age 18 and 10 percent are married by age 15, in spite of the fact that the minimum age of marriage under Nepali law is 20 years of age.Boys also often marry young in Nepal, though in lower numbers than girls.Poverty was a theme in many of these girls’ lives; many described going hungry, and some parents said they had married off girls because they could not feed them.Some girls said they welcomed a child marriage because they hoped it might mean they had more to eat, a hope that was not always fulfilled. In some communities it is seen as “normal” for girls to marry immediately after they reach puberty; in some areas girls marry even earlier.Usually it refers to a situation where the two spouses have decided themselves to get married, sometimes over the opposition of one or both of their families.
At the time this picture was taken she was seven months pregnant.
The consequences of child marriage amongst those we interviewed are deeply harmful. Married girls had babies early, sometimes because they did not have information about and access to contraception, and sometimes because their in-laws and husbands pressured them to give birth as soon, and as frequently, as possible.
Early childbearing is risky for both mother and child, and many girls and their babies suffer devastating health consequences.
We sat with woman and girls who had married as children—in their homes, under trees, in the fields where they were working—and asked them to tell us about how they ended up marrying as children, and why, and how it affected their lives.
We also interviewed family members of married children, educators, health workers, police officers, community leaders, and experts from NGOs working to end child marriage.