State should intervene, says researcher

Sep 9, 2016-

KATHMANDU: “What’s the government?” 

“Most of the girls who we interviewed across Nepal asked this question,” said Heather Barr, a senior researcher with the Human Rights Watch, painting a bleak picture of the outreach of the state to the community to stop the scourge of child marriage.

Barr, who travelled to different districts of Nepal to assess the situation of child marriage and the government’s efforts to address the problem, spoke to the Post on Thursday prior to a press meet organised by the New York-based rights group which made public its report in Kathmandu.

“The situation is appalling. We met many girls who were forced into marriage for not one but various reasons, and this threatens their future--their economic prospects, their health. There is a lot for the government to do besides making promises,” said Barr.

Barr, who earlier conducted a similar research in Bangladesh, pointed to the fact how the scourge has been threatening girls’ future in the entire region.

Despite Nepali law prescribing minimum age for marriage for both women and men as 20, Nepal has the third highest rate of child marriage in Asia, with 37 percent girls marrying before age 18, 10 percent before they turn 15.

“This shows lack of government intervention. It’s the government that should take the lead and put in place proper mechanisms to ensure that child marriages do not take place,” she said.

The senior HRW researcher shared that she came across many girls who could have been stopped from early marriage and sent to school for education. “Only if a little more efforts had been made.”

Published: 09-09-2016 08:31

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