Sanibheri Municipality takes strict measures to curb child marriageUnderage couples and their guardians will be barred from receiving government services and facilities.
Despite concerted efforts to eradicate child marriage in Rukum (West), authorities are still unable to curb the deeply rooted practice in the district.
In the third week of September, an underage couple in Sanibheri Rural Municipality attempted to get married without the consent of their guardians. The local body intervened and sent them to the District Police Office.
“The police stopped the wedding. The duo is under our surveillance now,” said Nara Bahadur Pun, the chairman of Sanibheri Rural Municipality. “But we can’t keep an eye on every child or family involved in child marriage. Despite taking various measures to check the practice, we still come across cases of child marriage in the district.”
As a stringent measure to curb child marriage, the executive committee meeting of Sanibheri Rural Municipality on September 26 decided not to extend any government services and facilities to couples who marry before the age of 20 and their families.
“It’s a hard line we have taken, but it needs to be done to discourage child marriage,” said Lila Sharma, chief at woman, children and social welfare unit of the rural municipality.
Various local units, the District Police Office, the local administration, child clubs and several organisations working for children and women have been tirelessly working to uproot child marriage in Rukum (West).
“It is our responsibility to help implement the laws of the land. We are committed to uprooting child marriage since the practice affects children as well as the society,” said Chairman Pun.
Child marriage has been illegal in Nepal since 1963. Two years ago, the government increased the legal age for marriage from 18 to 20.
In November second week, the District Police Office had organised an interaction programme with the priests in Musikot, urging them not to perform wedding ceremonies of underage couples. The priests had pledged that they would ask brides and grooms-to-be to produce their birth registration certificates, and would deny them services if they are not of marriageable age.