Before reading the article, look at the statistics below, capturing the scale and scope of child marriage across the globe. According to UNICEF:
12 million girls marry before the age of 18 every year.
Globally 1 in 5 young women were married before their 18th birthday.
Over 650 million women alive today were married as children.
Pregnancy complications and childbirth are the leading cause of death in girls aged 15 to 19 in developing countries.
The Covid-19 pandemic is profoundly affecting the everyday lives of girls, increasing the likelihood of child marriage. Over the next decade, up to 10 million more girls will be at risk of becoming child brides as a result of the pandemic.
Then, reflect on the data using the prompts below:
What does reading the statistics make you think or feel?
Using what you already know about child marriage, what do you think might be some of the reasons it is on the rise during the pandemic?
Questions for Writing and Discussion
Read the article, then answer the following questions:
1. The article begins with the story of Sapana, 17, who lives in a small town in Nepal. What does her story illustrate about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and child marriage? How has the pandemic “intensified the factors that drive child marriage,” according to the article?
2. How has the pandemic affected Nepal, one of Asia’s poorest nations? Cite two ways described in the article and explain how they are connected to the rise in child marriage in this small country. What other countries have seen surges in child marriage?
3. What are some of the negative consequences of child marriage? Give at least two.
4. What are some of the challenges facing activists, like Hira Khatri, an anti-child-marriage activist, during the pandemic? Why is child marriage prevalent in Nepal even though the legal age for marriage is 20?
5. Why did Sapana’s father, Ram Dayal, consent to her marriage despite initially not being happy that his daughter was marrying so young? What do some people in Nepal see as the benefits of child marriage?
6. What new ideas and perspectives did you learn about child marriage by reading the article that the statistics in the warm-up activity were not able to capture? What in the article was most memorable, surprising or affecting? What questions do you still have about child marriage in Nepal and across the world?