HRW blames government for child marriage menace

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Sep 9, 2016-

The government is not taking sufficient steps to end child marriage, causing deep harm to both girls and boys across the country, says a report launched on Wednesday.

According to the report titled Our Time to Sing and Play, prepared by the Human Rights Watch, child marriage is a grave problem in the country and the efforts made by the government currently are not enough to end this evil practice. The government has announced to end child marriage but the target date is constantly being pushed back as the menace spreads across the country. Nepal pledged to end child marriage by 2020 at the 2014 Global Girl Summit held in London. But the target was pushed to 2030 this year.

Nepal has the third-highest rate of child marriage in Asia after Bangladesh and India with 37 percent girls marrying before 18--10 percent before 15, despite the legal minimum age for bride and groom being 20 years.

“Many children in Nepal--both girls and boys--are seeing their futures stolen from them by child marriage,” said Heather Barr, senior women’s rights researcher at the HRW. “Nepal’s government promises reform, but in towns and villages across the country, nothing has changed.”

The HRW had interviewed 149 people, including 104 married children and young adults who married as children with a majority of them from Nepal’s Dalit or indigenous communities.

The report found that poverty, lack of access to education, child labour, social pressure and the dowry practice are among the factors driving child marriage. It also found an increase in voluntary love marriage of children as young as 12 or 13, many prompted by deprivation or abuse at home, desire to avoid a forced child marriage and the lack of information about and access to contraception.

The report has also recommended that the government develop and implement a National Plan of Action to End Child Marriage through a consultative process with all relevant parts of government and with civil society, community leaders, faith-based leaders and young people.

A majority of the respondents rued that they were either forced to marry early had chosen to marry when still very young.

The study also pointed out that police are not proactive when it comes to preventing child marriages, something outlawed in 1963, unless a complaint is filed. It has recommended that Nepal Police look into all complaints of child marriage promptly.

Published: 09-09-2016 08:29

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