Child marriage goes unabated in Baitadi

- KHAGENDRA AWASTHI, Baitadi

Oct 22, 2014-

Although it is claimed that the rate of child marriage has gone down significantly over the past few years, a recent survey has shown that the social evil is as grave as in the past in the district. The survey was conducted by an NGO as part of its ‘Girls are not brides’ programme in Gokuleshwor, Kotpetara, Rudreshwor and Dilasaini VDCs. The survey conducted among females aged below 24 showed that most of them had tied the knot before attaining 18 years of age. According to the statistics, more than 59 percent of the females were victims of early marriage.

“Although the statistics vary from place to place, we can presume the overall condition of the district through this data,” said Ganesh Shahi, district officer of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Even the data of District Public Health Office (DPHO) shows that most women in the aforementioned VDCs give birth before they reach the age of 20. The DPHO stated that in remote VDCs majority of females visiting health centres during pregnancy are below the age of 20. Women belonging to Dalit and economically backward communities fall victim to early marriage the most due to lack of awareness about the dangers of underage maternity and various other factors. Meanwhile, one of the factors contributing to early marriage happens to be widespread superstition that one cannot marry off their daughters once they attain puberty, said locals.

Meanwhile, women rights activist argued that as women in more male-dominated societies have less or no say in their reproductive processes and health, there has been no improvement in their awareness about maternal health. According to Pratap Singh Mahara, coordinator of the Women Upliftment Society working towards the reduction of child marriage, said that family pressure and social traditions compelled females to become victims of early marriage.

According to experts, underage pregnant women suffer from various complications including anemia, uterine prolapse, which also increases the risks of maternal-infant mortality. According to the 2011 consensus, 59,963 women and 22,174 males had tied the knot before attaining 18 years of age in Baitadi. 

Published: 23-10-2014 09:02

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