Teenage pregnancy rife in MakwanpurNirmaya Chepang of Khairang Village in Raksirang Rural Municipality-9, Makwanpur, gave birth to a baby girl at Khairang Health Post last week. She is only 14.
Nirmaya Chepang of Khairang Village in Raksirang Rural Municipality-9, Makwanpur, gave birth to a baby girl at Khairang Health Post last week. She is only 14.
A girl barely into puberty giving birth is not uncommon in Raksirang.
Municipal records show that a staggering 70 percent of the teenage girls here get married between ages 11 and 15.
Akamaya Thing, auxiliary nurse midwife at the health post, says with underage marriage comes underage pregnancy which can pose serious threats to the mother’s health.
“Both Nirmaya and her daughter would not have survived had I not intervened when I saw her family trying to deliver the baby at home with the help of a local witchdoctor,” she said.
At Akamaya’s insistence Nirmaya’s family finally agreed to admit her to the health post.
In the first seven months of the current fiscal year, the health post has had 17 child delivery cases.
“Ten mothers were under 20 years and three of them were between ages 14 and 15,” said Akamaya. Dr Nisha Rai, a gynaecologist at Hetauda Hospital, says teenage pregnancy is rife in many rural areas of Makwanpur.
Between December 2017 and January 2018, at least 26 teenage girls gave birth at the hospital.
The majority of these young mothers came from remote parts of the district.
“In case of teenage pregnancy, there is a high chance of the mother and the baby suffering from various health complications during and after child birth. Infant and maternal mortality rates are not going to improve unless the authorities are serious about stopping underage marriage,” said Dr Rai.
Although the legal marriage age for both men and women starts at 20, underage marriage is prevalent in many parts of the country, not just Makwanpur.
Rights groups say underage marriages are still taking place in different parts of the country because the authorities have continued to get away from their responsibility of stopping them and laying blame on ignorance and outdated tradition.