Methods: We analyzed data from 2006, 2011 and 2016 Nepal Demographic and Health Surveys (NDHS), nationally representative comprehensive surveys. Each survey used two-stage, stratified sample design to collect data from women between 15 and 49 years of age. In each cohort, we selected women between 18 and 24 years of age and estimated the trend in female child marriage over time. We then employed logistic regression analyses using SAS version 9.2 to identify socio-demographic and geographic risks for childhood marriage.
Results: About 9%, 8%, and 6% of the women between 18 and 24 years of age were married before age 15 in 2006, 2011 and 2016 respectively. Similarly, about 48%, 40%, and 39% of these women were married before age 18 in 2006, 2011 and 2016 respectively. During the decade (2006-2016), the rate of decline in child marriage was 33% for girls under age 15 and 19% for girls under age 18. Further analysis showed that compared to other regions of Nepal, higher proportions of girls were married in Central and Mid-western regions. The odds of marrying as children were 19 times higher for women without education compared to their counterparts with more than 10th grade of education, holding other factors constant.
Conclusions and Implications: Nepal’s current law prohibits child marriage and child marriage is declining. At the current rate of decline, it will take five decades to end child marriage and Nepal will not meet the SDG goal by 2030. The study supports child marriage prevention efforts, especially the promotion of girls’ education in Central and Mid-Western Development regions of Nepal.
- Le Strat Y, Dubertret C, Le Foll B. Child Marriage in the United States and Its Association With Mental Health in Women. Pediatrics. 2011;128(3):524-530.
- Raj A. When the mother is a child: the impact of child marriage on the health and human rights of girls. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 2010;95(11):931-935.