Have you ever wondered when will you get married? "After graduation." "When I reach 25 years old." "After being independent." If you ask any girls around time, the answers would be similar as mentioned above. But have you ever wondered, how girls living in remote areas of Nepal would answer this question? Probably the answer would be "I am already married" because by the time she is able to understand about life, she is married by her family. It is assumed that people living in rural areas marry their children early but people living in urban or educated society are also in a hurry to send their daughter to her husband's home.
A research was carried out by Human Rights Watch (HRW) regarding child marriage in Nepal. The research included interview with 104 children and adults who were married as children, parents, school teachers, police officers etc. and a 118 pages report was generated named "Our time to sing and play: Child marriages in Nepal" which revealed that 37% of girls are married before the age of 18 while 10% of them being below 15 years of age. And it is not miserable only for girls of Nepal, 11% of boys are also recorded to have been married before 18 years of age. The irony is that law of Nepal does not allow anyone to get married before 20 with the exception that they can marry after 16 years with the consent of parents.
What may be the cause of early marriage? Poverty, lack of education and political instability are the major causes of child marriage. People in a country like Nepal, take girls as the burden of family and believe in getting rid of them as soon as possible. The other causes are poverty; poverty leads to lack of education and lack of education leads to child marriage. Early marriage of girls' means sending them to their husbands' home which means less mouth to feed. Not only this, but the report revealed that girls elope in their younger age to get rid of domestic violence in their homes. The government of Nepal has termed child marriage as illegal since 1963, yet, numbers and figures show the failure of government in eradicating the problem completely from the society. The postponed target to get rid of child marriage from the year 2020 to 2030 clearly indicates that government is not doing its best on the matter. The changing strategies and figures in Nepali government have a huge impact on the lives of citizens of Nepal causing low-caste, poor and under suppressed group to suffer maximum from the consequences. The report to has facts to show that most of the groups to perform child marriages are "Dalits" and "Janajati".
The report revealed that most of the girls who married in young age suffer from domestic violence including the use of abusive words, repeated rape by husbands, beating by family members and dowry. The problems do not limit up to domestic violence. Many women become pregnant before being physically and emotionally ready for it. It is caused by lack of knowledge of contraception, unsafe sex, rape by husband and pressure from in-laws to give birth to children as soon as possible and as many as possible. This not only affects the health of girls and children but also causes serious damage like miss-carriage, the death of the mother, delivery complexity etc.
The problem is not hidden from anyone. Being born and brought up in urban cities of Nepal, still many of my friends got married before having first menstruation. They did not even get a chance to say "no". The excuse of parents was "The relation came from good family, so we hurried". I could not get the gist of the answer, are girls really the burden of a family? If yes, then why do they appreciate when their wife gives birth to their children? Why do they love to have the company of their mothers?
We as a responsible citizen of Nepal should act against child marriage. The least we can do is to inform police whenever we see child marriage happening around us. The one step we can take is to change the scenario of the country. We can pressurize the government, we can conduct awareness programs, and we can act by doing anything that signifies a step against child marriage. The country does not change itself unless we make things happen. We cannot simply scroll down the news feed and complain about the fact. This doesn't make us different than people who are involved in the crime. Lets' act by taking one step at a time.