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This Is The Story Of Nepal's 7-Year-Old Grooms

Over a tenth of boys are married off before the age of 18 in the small Himalayan country, according to a report from Care International.

Posted on June 19, 2015, at 11:20 a.m. ET

In most parts of the world where children are being forced into marriage, it’s an issue of adult men marrying girls. But in some parts of Nepal, the problem also affects boys – because children are married off to each other.

Care International

A report out this week from Care International, an NGO that works to combat poverty, looks at the boys it calls "child grooms."

Carey Wagner/CARE | Illustrations: Stephen Purnell/CARE

Nepal has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, the report says, with 41 percent of girls and 11 percent of boys married before the age of 18.

Carey Wagner/CARE | Illustration: Stephen Purnell/CARE

Boys as young as 7 are forced to marry in parts of western Nepal, says the report, which is focused on the Kapilbastu district. A child couple will often live apart for a few years and then move in together with the expectation of starting a family when boys are in their early teens or even as young as 12.

Mathura Dhobi, a laborer in western Nepal who is featured in the report, was married at the age of 12 and soon had to drop out of school to take care of his children. "There's a lot of hardship. We are not happy," he says.

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His father says having seen the toll that early marriage took on Dhobi’s life, he now doesn’t want his other sons to marry early despite the social pressure.

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youtube.com / Via youtube.com

And his wife Sivananda, who was just 10 when she was married, says she is basically made to do household chores all day. Girls forced into marriage are often used by their new in-laws as free labor, the report says.

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Families marry boys off to prevent them from sleeping around, make sure they marry within their caste, and get "good wives" while they're still available, the report says.

Carey Wagner/CARE | Illustrations: Stephen Purnell/CARE

Parshuram Harijan is another child groom featured in the report. He was married at the age of nine.

Carey Wagner/CARE

Three years later, Harijan's wife moved into his family home and the couple were expected to produce a child.

"I was overwhelmed," Harijan says in the report. "I couldn't do what was expected of me as a married man."

Harijan's first marriage ended, so he married again at the age of 14.

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