Nepal's challenge of ending child marriage

Despite ban, an estimated 41 percent of girls in the country are married before they turn 18.


    As Nepal prepares to host the Girl Summit in Kathmandu promoting gender equality, the government says it aims to end child marriage by the year 2030. 

    This is a real challenge, as Nepal has one of the worst rates of child marriages in the world. UNICEF estimates that 41 percent of girls are married before the age of 18.

    Pari Devi Mandal is a 17-year-old mother of two and has already been married for four years.

    "I knew I was getting married but I didn’t know what it meant," Pari told Al Jazeera in Sakhada village. 

    Pari's husband, Sanjeev Mandal, is one year older and still angry at his father for initially arranging the marriage without his knowledge.

    "I didn't know I was getting married. My parents got me married," Sanjeev said.  

    Bidheshwor Mandal, Sanjeev's father, told Al Jazeera that the marriage was arranged in line with tradition and culture.

    "It's our culture. Our society expects us to get our children married early," Bidheshwor said. 

    WATCH: Nepal's slave girls

    Since 2002, the legal minimum age for marriage in Nepal has been set at 18. But social pressure is high and girls are still being married off in the name of honour of culture.

    Manohar Kumar Pokhrel, a human rights activist, said that even the police are hesitant to take action against the practice, especially those who are politically connected.

    "The rich get away with impunity; it’s only the poor and the powerless end up getting caught," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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