Abstract: (WITHDRAWN) Toward Eliminating Harmful Practices: Prevalence, Trend and Predictors of Child Marriage in Nepal (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

(WITHDRAWN) Toward Eliminating Harmful Practices: Prevalence, Trend and Predictors of Child Marriage in Nepal

Sunday, January 19, 2020
Archives, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Shanta Pandey, PhD, Professor, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Background and Purpose: Over 12 million female children worldwide are married before age 18 annually. Women married as children face a significantly higher risk for physical, sexual, emotional, and economic abuse from their spouses compared to their counterparts who are married as adults. They are also more likely to suffer from mental illness—anxiety, depression and suicide contemplation. Also, child marriage perpetuates gender inequity in education and employment opportunities and increases the risk for maternal and child health complications. To be sure, child marriage occurs across the globe; in the U.S. about 8.9% of women’s marriages occur before age 181 whereas in some of the countries in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, up to 50 to 70% of girls are married before 18 years of age2. Goal 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) aims to “eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage” of girls. In this paper, using data from one country, we asked the following questions: What is the prevalence and trend in girl child marriage in Nepal? What socio-economic and geographic factors contribute to child marriage in Nepal?

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.