CM Poudel vows to end practice of child marriageProvince 3 Chief Minister Dormani Paudel has announced to make the province a ‘child marriage-free’ zone in the next three years.
Province 3 Chief Minister Dormani Paudel has announced to make the province a ‘child marriage-free’ zone in the next three years.
This decision might prove to be a challenging one as a lot of communities in the province still practice child marriage despite its criminalisation. The Chepang community in particular remain hidebound and refuse to change their attitude towards the practice of child marriage.
Chepang is an indigenous ethnic group of Nepal with almost 90 percent of them living below the poverty line.
Child marriage is still pervasive in the community and is one of the main reasons why most Chepang girls drop out of school at an early age.
In the last five months alone, seven Chepang girls who were studying at Jurethum Basic School in Raksirang Rural Municipality-7, Makwanpur, got married. Now, they no longer attend school.
Sarita Chepang, 13, from Lothang, Chitwan, shares a similar fate. On June 3, she got married to 15-year-old Kishor Chepang and dropped out of school as her in-laws wanted her to look after the house.
In the last academic year, 11 Chepang girls studying in Jurethum School, who were aged 13-16 years, got married in Kakada, Raksirang-7, while 5 Chepang girls of Aathare School dropped out because of the same reason. 15 underage Chepang girls got married in Khairang alone.
When asked why child-marriage is still so rampant among the Chepangs, Chairman of the rural municipality Raj Kumar Malla said,”Child marriage is linked to poverty and lack of education, and since most Chepangs still live below the poverty line, they marry off their underage children without the authorities knowing.”
Meanwhile, 67-year-old Aaitaram Chepang of Kailash Rural Municipality holds a different belief.
“If our sons get married at an early age, they can go to other places and earn money while our daughters-in-law can handle the household chores,” said Chepang, adding that they usually like to marry off their daughters near their house. “If we can find a boy for our daughter nearby, we don’t like to miss that chance,” he said.
Experts said that marriage in an early age deprives girls of their basic rights, including education and health. According to studies, girls who marry young suffer from pregnancy-related complications, uterine prolapse, infant and maternal mortality, malnutrition of both mother and child as well as psychological problems, including depression and violent marital relation.