Children launch campaign against child marriageA group of children from Rainadevi Chhahara Rural Municipality in Palpa has launched a campaign against child marriage.
A group of children from Rainadevi Chhahara Rural Municipality in Palpa has launched a campaign against child marriage.
Girls as young as 13 are married off by their parents in Rainadevi Chhahara. Now the children in the village have taken upon themselves the task of combating this social ill that has already ruined the future of many of their contemporaries.
Pooja Karki, a 17-year-old campaigner, said underage marriage was prevalent not just in their area, but in several parts of the district.
“With this campaign we plan to raise awareness against child marriage throughout Palpa. It is unacceptable that girls barely in their early teens are forced to marry under the pressure of their parents and relatives,” she said.
In Rainadevi Chhahara, child marriage is endemic wards 6, 7 and 8. There, girls in the 13-16 age cohort are most likely to be married off by their parents.
The young activists are up against adults who have accepted underage marriage as part of their tradition and custom.
“We know what we are up against. There are many people who will not listen to us, but that will not deter us from getting our message across,” said Pooja. Manu Sanjali, who was married when she was just 15 years old, said no one had come forward until today to speak against child marriage in her village.
“I was forced to marry at an early age. There was nobody to raise awareness against child marriage,” said Manu, who is now 18 and already a mother of a two-year-old child. She hopes the campaign would save many young girls from falling in the trap of early marriage. Bhoj Bahadur Khadka, a local school headmaster, said that the scourge of child marriage had ruined the lives of many young girls.
“We do urge parents not to rush with the marriage of their daughters, but they hardly listen to us. Girls who are just in their fifth grade are getting married,” he said.After learning about the campaign launched by the children, Ram Bahadur Karki, the chairman of the rural municipality, said they too were planning to launch a similar drive.According to the 2011 census, 51 percent of the teenagers between 15 to 19 years of age were married in Palpa.