In Salyan, it’s now mandatory for wedding cards to include age of bride and groomThe move is aimed to control child marriages in the district, according to Salyan’s District Police Office.
In a bid to control unchecked child marriages in the district, the District Police Office (DPO) in Salyan has come up with a plan that makes it mandatory for families to mention the age of the bride and bridegroom in the wedding invitation card.
The DPO on Friday signed an agreement with representatives of the district-based printing press to implement the move immediately.
“We hope the mandatory provision will help control child marriages,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Dhakendra Khatiwada. “The bride, bridegroom and their relatives also have to furnish other documents like citizenship certificate, birth registration certificate and passport to the press to print the invitation cards.”
According to him, the representatives of the printing press expressed their commitment to support the police in curbing child marriages, adding the police will take action against them if they are found printing wedding invitation cards without verifying the authentic age of both the bride and the groom.
Child marriage has been illegal in Nepal since 1963. The legal age for marriage in the country is from 18 to 20. As per the existing legal provisions, parents and priests solemnising the wedding ceremony of underage couples can be sentenced to prison for up to three years and fined up to Rs 30,000 or both.
Underage marriage is a major social problem in Salyan, a hill district in Karnali Province. According to the National Census of 2011, the average rate of child marriage is 52 percent in the country. But in Salyan, it is 69.88.
Hence, the DPO and the local units have launched various awareness programmes to discourage underage marriage in the region. “We have been organising street dramas on the evils of child marriage and arranging interactions with the locals to discuss the issue,” said Khatiwada.
“We have also been pasting pamphlets in public places discouraging child marriage,” he added.
The DPO recently held an interaction with Hindu priests urging them to stand against the underage marriage as well. Around 80 priests, according to the DPO, attended the interaction. “We have been actively supporting the authorities for their campaign to stop child marriage. Now, we do not perform wedding ceremonies without verifying the authentic age of the bride and bridegroom,” said Tulsiram Sharma, a priest of Chaurgaun.
With the help of such initiatives, the DPO said it has stopped eight child marriages for the past nine months.