Child marriage still rampant in RolpaAs many as 31 underage couples tied the knot in Rolpa Municipality-2 alone in the past two years.
Child marriage is still rampant in several villages of Rolpa, a hill district of Lumbini Province.
Recent data reveals that as many as 31 underage couples tied the knot in a dozen settlements at Rolpa Municipality Ward No 2 alone in the past two years.
Last week, the women and mothers groups of different villages of the ward organised an interaction programme to discuss the issue of child marriage. They informed the people’s representatives about the situation of child marriage in the ward and urged them to take necessary initiatives to control the practice.
“I was shocked upon knowing the situation of child marriage in the ward. Neither the ward office nor the municipal office was aware of the high prevalence of child marriage,” said Khati Gharti Magar, a ward member of Rolpa-2.
According to child rights activists and local women’s groups, child marriage goes unchecked in several settlements, including Khabang, Thalabang, Sibang, Khangbang, Kavrekharka, Pachhabang, Dhanmuda, Upallo Gaun, Tallo Gaun and Thalibang, in Rolpa Municipality-2.
The civil code 2017 states that the minimum age for marriage for both women and men in Nepal is 20. Though the country abolished child marriage in 1963, the social practice is still rampant in rural areas despite various attempts of the government authorities and social organisations to end the practice.
“Most of the teenagers in such underage marriages elope if their guardians, with the support of social organisations, attempt to stop them from marrying. Despite various efforts from the government authorities, local women’s groups and social organisations, child marriage is still rampant in the muncipalty,” said Prajita Gharti Magar, a woman leader of Rolpa Municipality.
According to Gokarna Pun, an assistant professor at Jaljala Multiple Campus and a researcher on child marriage, around 30 percent of the total marriages in Rolpa Municipality is of underage couples while the figure of child marriage in the entire district of Rolpa is around 39 percent.
Gender discrimination, lack of opportunity for education and job, dowry system, lack of awareness among the guardians, lack of effective implementation of laws and ineffective monitoring by the concerned authorities, among others, are the main reasons behind the high number of child marriage cases in the district.
“All three levels of the government and social organisations should work hand in hand to come up with effective plans and policies to end child marriage,” Pun said.
Keeping in view the high rate of child marriage, Rolpa Municipality in the fiscal year 2017-18 prepared a five-year plan to end the practice. The local unit also formulated working guidelines but the plan has yet to be implemented effectively.
“The plan could not be implemented as expected due to a lack of budget and awareness among the people,” said Man Kumari Gharti Magar, the deputy mayor of Rolpa Municipality. The municipality had planned to reduce the rate of child marriage to five percent by 2022.
As per the record of the District Police Office in Rolpa, the police stopped the marriages of 43 underage couples in the last fiscal year.
“We have been launching awareness campaigns against child marriage along with taking legal action against those involved in such practice,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Binod Ghimire.