Child marriage – Left column

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40% of Nepali girls got married before their 18th birthday in 2017. And 7% even got married before the age of 15. Child marriage violates children’s rights and represents the most prevalent form of gender-based violence, abuse and exploitation of girls. It also shows that women and girls are seen as inferior to men and boys. Poverty is another reason for child marriage and goes along with the perception that girls are a burden to the family. It is also associated with the dowry system, wherein daughters who marry early require lower payments. In some parts of Nepal it is a traditional belief that women will go to heaven if they marry before their first menstruation (Girls Not Brides). The harmful consequences of child marriage include serious health risks, separation from family and friends, lack of freedom to interact with peers and participate in community activities and decreased opportunities for education. It can also result in bonded labour or enslavement, commercial sexual exploitation and violence. Every third girl suffers from violence by their husband and every sixth girl reports physical violence (UNICEF).