Priests to check birth registration and citizenship certificates of brides and grooms prior to solemnising their weddingsThe priests will work with the local government, police, women’s groups, child clubs and students to end child marriage in Rukum (West).
With an aim to uproot the practice of child marriage, some Hindu priests in Rukum (West) have taken an unusual step. The priests have started asking brides and grooms-to-be to produce their birth registration and citizenship certificates before solemnising their weddings.
“Child marriage is still a major social problem in the district. Our decision to ask for certificates before performing wedding ceremonies may sound absurd to many, but we have undertaken this as our social responsibility to curb the practice,” said Ram Prasad Gautam, a priest from Musikot, the district headquarters. “We will not officiate the weddings of underage brides and grooms.”
Gautam said that the priests will work alongside the local government, police, women’s groups, child clubs and students to end child marriage in the district.
The District Police Office held an interaction programme with the priests in Musikot on Wednesday. Around 20 priests attended the event, where they expressed their commitment to check the age of brides and grooms before performing wedding ceremonies.
“We will talk with other priests across the district and ask them to join us in this campaign,” said Jhakku Prasad Upadhyay, a priest attending the function.
According to Deputy Superintendent of Police Sumit Khadka, the priests present in the interaction vowed to help check child marriage in the district. “We will launch such interaction programmes in the local units as well and ask other priests to help us in our drive,” he added.
Child marriage has been illegal in Nepal since 1963. Two years ago, the government increased the legal age for marriage from 18 to 20. As per the existing legal provisions, the priest performing the wedding ceremony of underage couples and their parents can be sentenced to prison for up to three years and fined up to Rs 33,000.