The human rights and international development fields have paid enormous attention to child marriage in recent years. The practice reflects and reinforces fundamental social patterns of gender and age discrimination, predominantly against girls. This discrimination includes: a lack of commitment to girls’ schooling; the appropriation of their unpaid labor in the household; the imposition of constraints on their opportunities for paid employment; the acceptance of their lack of agency to make critical decisions about their own lives and health; the refusal to permit them control over their sexuality and reproduction; and a tolerance of their vulnerability to gender-based violence.
The Tipping Point Community Participatory Analysis Study
The Tipping Point Community Participatory Analysis Study was designed to deepen understanding of the contextual factors and root causes driving the prevalence of child marriage in particular regions of Nepal and Bangladesh, countries with some of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. The study focuses on distinctive regions within Nepal (the Terai) and Bangladesh (the haor areas) with particularly high rates of child marriage.
The three main areas of inquiry offer insights into the vulnerability to child marriage, the specific drivers of the practice, and the dreams and reactions of adolescents affected by child marriage. The intention was also to capture the views of young people, inform innovative and context-specific program design, contribute to the development of new measures for monitoring and evaluation, and build the skills of partner organizations and community-based project staff to engage in participatory research and analysis.
Village sampling in the Terai of Nepal reflected priority criteria associated with child marriage: caste and ethnicity, remoteness, availability of school, and presence of civil society organizations, with highest priority given to villages with Dalit caste members, close proximity to the Indian border, no schooling beyond primary, and the presence of nongovernmental organization activity. In Bangladesh, village sampling in the economically marginalized and physically isolated haor areas focused on criteria associated with a high level of remoteness, proportional representation of Hindu and Muslim majority populations, and a mix of rankings for perceived levels of child marriage.