Nepal in race against time to end child marriage

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 24, 2016-

Contrary to government’s claim of significant achievement in reducing girl child marriage, a staggering three million girls (24 percent of the total population) have gotten married before their eighteenth birthday, while half of them become mother in their teens.

The government has claimed to have reduced child marriage rate by 10 percent in the last decade. United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) reports, however, suggest over 1.3 million adolescent girls aged between 10 and 19 years are at risk of being married as children. This means two out of 10 children get married before the age of 15.

Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare Chandra Prakash Mainali said various government policies brought about positive results on child marriage.

“Now we need a collective social effort to end discrimination between a man and woman to end the child marriage by 2030,” said Minister Mainali, speaking at a programme entitled Second Girl Child Summit, organised by the ministry in association with Unicef and DFID.

However, the minister’s rhetoric failed to convince a 15-year-old girl from Kalikot who asked if we are united in fight against this evil practice.

  Radhika Budha, a 15-year old girl from Kalikot, said child marriage is a normal practice in many parts of the country. “Despite being illegal, child marriage takes place in the country,” said Budha, calling on the authorities to emphasise more on education to empower girls to put an end to the evil practice.

“Are we united to fight this evil practice,” said Budha, one of 59 child participants from 15 districts with high child marriage at the Summit.

Stakeholders say the government faces an uphill task to end child marriage by 2030. “Formulating laws alone is not enough to change such deep-rooted practice. It takes a lot of time and continuous awareness programmes, laced with reward and punishment, to discourage the practice,” said Advocate Indu Tuladhar.

Published: 24-03-2016 08:07

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