Call for assessment of girls’ vulnerability to child marriage after quake

Kathmandu, July 29

The Committee on the Rights of the Child has recommended to the government to undertake an assessment of the impact of the 2015 earthquake on girls’ vulnerability to child marriage and apply those findings to guide the implementation of measures to address the increased risk of child marriages.

CRC meeting held in June also welcomed the explicit prohibition of child marriage in the constitution, the recently approved strategy to end child marriage and the government’s leadership in implementing the Regional Action Plan to End Child Marriage in South Asia 2015-2018).

However, it said it was deeply concerned that although the government had set the minimum age for marriage for boys and girls at 20 years, child marriage especially of girls, remained widespread.

“The committee urges the state party to ensure that the minimum age of marriage set in the constitution is applied,” reads the report, recommending the government to review allegedly contradictory legal provisions in the draft penal and civil codes to ensure that child marriages can be rendered void if it is in the best interests of the children concerned.

CRC has urged the government to launch awareness-raising campaigns and programmes on the harmful effects of early marriage on the physical and mental health and well-being of girls as well as to establish protection and support schemes for children wishing to void their marriage, particularly those who file a complaint.

The committee had made these recommendations during 2132nd meeting of CRC held on June 3, 2016. Before this meeting, CRC had considered the combined third to fifth periodic reports of Nepal at its 2110th and 2111th meetings held on May 19 and 20.

According to State of the World’s Children, United Nations Children Fund (2013), Nepal has one of the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world and the third highest child marriage prevalence in South Asia after Bangladesh (66 per cent) and India (47 per cent).

Nepal Census 2011 said that 49 per cent of 6.4 million adolescents (10-19 years) living in Nepal are adolescent girls. Similarly, in Nepal two out of 10 women (15.5 per cent) between the ages of 15-49 years were first married before the age of 15, whereas five out of 10 women (48.5 per cent) between the ages of 20 and 49 years were first married before the age of 18.