Bimal Bahadur Bista
DOTI: Parents and guardians have started campaigns against child marriage in Doti district, a far western hilly region. Every year, local people organize campaigns to end child marriage in the district. Lately, various non governmental organizations have begun helping local people.
Chhaupadi is another malpractice prevailed in the district. Local people from Dipayal Silgadhi Municipality-8 of Doti have started to be active in the campaign against child marriage after their daughters were deprived of basic child rights due to child marriage.
Parents have also been active in expressing their commitment to support the campaign against child marriage as they are preparing to declare the ward child-marriage-free. Bhagadevi Luhar, a parent who participated in the campaign, said that they have been active in ending the campaign as many people have lost their lives due to child marriage and chhaupadi practices in Doti and other districts. She said, “As the number of child marriages has increased in the district, we have launched a campaign to end it. We will end child marriage at any cost.” She informed that she will help to bring those who get married before the age of 20 under the law.
Another local, Gopi Saud, said that the problem of teenage girls marrying without the consent of their parents has been increasing before lawful age of marriage. He said, “Now we know about the age for the legal marital through various organizations. We don’t allow our children to get married before 20 years of age, and we don’t allow others to do the same.”
According to the statistics obtained from various organizations, the practice of marrying a daughter at the age of 17-18 is still prevalent in different communities and castes of the district.
Although child marriage is rampant, only four cases have been registered in the last two years, said Indra Bahadur Malla, Information Officer at the District Police Office, Doti. He said, “It is heard that the practice of child marriage and chhaupadi is prevalent everywhere, but no one has filed a case. Only two cases have been registered in the last two years.” The women here have not even got the opportunity of basic education and have become mothers by marrying at an early age.
Bhakta Bahadur Singh, former chairman of the Community Development Forum, informed that non-governmental organizations are also supporting the campaign of declaring most of the wards in the district child marriage free.
Yagya Raj Badu, Education Officer of Good Neighbors International Nepal, said that village level education against child marriage has been provided to parents in different villages of Dipayal Silgadhi Municipality-8 with the financial and technical support of Community Development Center Doti. He said, “In order to end child marriage, we have started informing parents about the impact of education and child marriage.” The ward 8 has the highest number of child marriages.
Article 174 of the Criminal Code Act 2074 BS stipulates that the age of a child for marriage should be at least 20 years, but due to lack of implementation in the district, child marriage is increasing instead of decreasing, said lawyer Shankardeep Madai.
According to him, if a marriage is found before the age of 20 or if a case is registered, the marriage will be automatically annulled and those who get married will be imprisoned for three years and fined up to Rs 30,000.