Nepal criticized for not stopping child marriages

September 8, 2016 | By | Reply More

Sep 08, – New York-based Human Rights Watch said government indifference means it has not taken the concrete steps needed to achieve the goal of completely stopping the practice in Nepal, which has the third-highest rate of such marriages in Asia after Bangladesh and India.

nepal-criticized-for-not-stopping-child-marriagesTraditional practices, poverty, last year’s massive earthquake and Nepal’s ongoing political instability mean child marriages remain a serious problem in the country, where 10 percent of the girls marry before they are 15, even though the government says it is making progress to combat the problem, rights groups say.

Nepalese government officials, however, said the Himalayan nation has made significant progress in stopping child marriage and has new policies and laws to address the issue, including a new law that says both men and women have to be 20 before they can legally marry.

But child-rights groups say the earthquake that killed thousands and made millions homeless, plus the country’s ongoing political instability, is making the situation worse in one of the poorest nations in the world.

A report released by Human Rights Watch on Thursday said the government has not done enough to end the practice of child marriage, adding there was little evidence of the government working effectively to try to prevent child marriage or mitigate the harm that married children experience.

The report “Our Time to Sing and Play” said that although child marriage has been illegal in Nepal since 1963, researchers found that “police rarely act to prevent child marriage or bring charges, and almost never do so unless a complaint is filed. Government officials often officially register child marriages, even though child marriage is a crime.”

The report said a majority of the children who marry young were from Nepal’s Dalit or indigenous communities, reflecting the greater prevalence of child marriage in marginalized and lower-caste communities. It said poverty, lack of access to education, child labor, social pressures, and dowry practices were among the factors driving child marriage.

The last survey by the government in 2011 found that 41 percent of girls married before the age of 18. According to UNICEF, the U.N’s child protection agency, 37 percent of girls married before the age of 18 and 10 percent were married before the age of 15.

Press journalist for HROmedia – Saurav Nag reports.

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Category: International

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