The issue of child brides has long been a topic of concern around the world. But as NPR reports, there's an often-overlooked corollary: child grooms. The UN defines a child marriage as one with a participant under the age of 18, and the issue does indeed affect girls more than boys. An estimated 650 million females were married as children, compared with 115 million males, according to UNICEF. But that's still a heavy toll on the latter camp, particularly given the pressures of suddenly becoming the head of a household while still an adolescent. "Child grooms are forced to take on adult responsibilities for which they may not be ready," says UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore. "Early marriage brings early fatherhood and with it added pressure to provide for a family, cutting short education and job opportunities."
The Central African Republic has the highest rate of marriages with a child groom (28%), followed by Nicaragua (19%). But the focus of the NPR story is on Nepal, where an estimated 1 in 10 marriages has a child groom. The piece by Stephanie Sinclair includes first-person examples, such as that of Chakraman Balami, who was pressured to marry at 15 because his father was terminally ill. "People have a mindset, a belief system that if you arrange your son's marriage or if you see your son getting married, then your life will be fulfilled," says Balami, who gave up his dreams of medical school. "I have a lot of anger when I think of the life I never got to make for myself." Read the full story, which explores the financial considerations in poor villages that often lead to a child marriage. (Read more child marriage stories.)