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BANGLES AND BINDHI’S

Engaging communities about child marriage in southern NepalSubtitle

​Child marriage is very common in many parts of the world. Despite being illegal in Nepal, it has one of the highest rates of child marriage, with two fifths of young adult women reporting to have been married before the age of 18. It is particularly common in rural areas and amongst certain ethnic groups, particularly the Dalit (low-caste) communities in the southern plains.

Being married young is a major determinant of physical and mental ill health. Girls who marry young are more likely to have children at a younger age and it is associated with an increased risk of mortality and illness in both the mother and baby. In addition, there are often educational, economic and social consequences of child marriage and many girls must move to a new area to live with their husbands’ family, potentially resulting in isolation and school drop-out.

Child marriage is understood to be a problem in Nepal and the government has recently set a goal to end child marriage by 2020 but attempts to reduce the rates of child marriage have largely been unsuccessful. Child marriage is a custom that has been ingrained over generations, with strong social and financial incentives. Traditionally, marriage is arranged by the family (61% of marriages in Nepal) with the bride and groom having little say in the decision process.

Over the course of a year and a half, we worked with a local film maker to engage with the public on topic of child marriage. Rather than just focus on education, we worked with couples (both men and women) who were married young to think deeply about how child marriage has affected their lives. We then created a film based on these discussions, telling their stories.