Child marriage goes unchecked in rural areas of the countryPolice on Thursday prevented the marriage of an underage girl in Mahottari.
Police on Thursday prevented the marriage of an underage girl at Bhapsi in Bardibas Municipality No. 3 of Mahottari.
Acting on a tip-off, security personnel reached the groom’s house on Thursday and detained the people involved in the marriage of a 16-year-old girl with a 24-year-old man.
In an apparent move to hoodwink the police, social organisations and the neighbours, the guardians took the teenager to Tuteshwor Temple at dawn and performed the wedding rituals, after which she was taken to the groom’s house.
“The police team reached the groom’s house on time, took the couple and their guardians under control and cancelled the marriage,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Rajan Chapagain. The bride, who is an eight grader at a local school, told the police that her guardians had forced her to marry the man who is eight years her senior. According to Chapagain, the girl has requested the police to manage an environment for her to continue her studies.
“Both the bride and the groom were handed over to their respective families after the guardians agreed to let the girl continue her studies, not arrange her marriage until she completes 20 years of age and not put any mental stress on her,” Chapagain saud. The guardians of both sides signed an agreement paper to that accord in the presence of ward Chairman Rajan Dhungana.
“The guardians of both sides were trying to get them married for the past five months, but their attempts were foiled due to the vigilance of various social organisations and the ward level child welfare committee,” said Junu Sunar, the programme coordinator of Samudayak Pariyar Kalyan Sangh, an organisation working against child marriage, in Mahottari.
Despite several awareness programmes launched by the government and various social organisations to curb the practice, underage marriage still goes unchecked in the district. Around 80 cases of child marriages were reported in Bardibas Municipality alone in the past two years.
Ward Chairman Dhungana, who is also the chairman of the ward child welfare committee, urged everyone to work together to put an end to the social malpractice.
Although Nepal abolished child marriage in 1963, the practice is still rampant, especially in the Madhesi communities and in rural areas of the country. According to the Civil Code, the minimum age for marriage in Nepal for both women and men is 20.
A Human Rights Watch report published in 2016 states that around 37 percent of girls in Nepal marry before the age of 18 and 10 percent are married by age 15. Nepal has the third highest rate of child marriage in South Asia, after Bangladesh and India.