बिहिबार, साउन ३, २०८१

Child marriage practice still in existence due to ignorance of law banning it


Raju Bishwakarma
Child marriage practice still remains in the Dhanusha district in spite of the laws banning marriage before 20 years of age.

As per the legal provision, the age at marriage for both the boy and girl is 20 years in Nepal and any wedlock before this age is considered illegal, it automatically becomes invalid and is also punishable offence.

However, many people in the district are found to be ignorant of this legal provision and hence the increasing trend of child marriage. In view of the growing tendency of under-age marriage in the district, the police in Dhanusha have initiated a special campaign to prevent and control the practice of child marriage.

The police prevented nine instances of child marriage in the last one and half months under this campaign, Deputy Superintendent Jeetendra Kumar Basnet of the District Police Office, Dhanusha said.
DSP Basnet added that the campaign has been run to stop under-age marriage by spreading public awareness that child marriage is a punishable crime.

DSP Basnet said, “We have been launching interaction in villages under the Community-Police Partnership Programme on the harmful social practice of child marriage and have immediately stopped it if we get information about it.”

He further said that they believed that cases of child marriage would decline this time as compared to previous period due to this.

Nine cases of child marriage were stopped in the district till the date since the month of mid-January 2022, added Basnet.

He shared, “We reach the venue after getting the information about the child marriage. We stop it with the coordination of guardians, judicial committee and civil society.”

Although some of the guardians take it easily while stopping the ongoing marriage function, most of them express worry and frustration, mentioned Basnet.
Bijay Mandal of Bideha municipality-6 of Dhanusha said that the girl’s side fixed the marriage after choosing a good and capable boy and on the basis of his family background.

He said, “No one talks about the age of the boy and the girl while fixing the date for their marriage. Even if discussed, age is not taken into consideration. Many people do not know about legal provisions. Some of them, who are well known about the legal provision, also do not care about it.”
Guardians face problems when the marriage function, organised by investing a huge amount, is stopped in the last moment.

In some cases, parents/guardians are ignorant to the fact that a child marriage is punishable by law. They are not aware that to arrange a child marriage could send them to jail. And in some cases, people know about the law against child marriage and do this out of a greed for dowry while some do not want to miss the proposal thinking that such a nice proposal may not come twice.

“Marriage under the age of 20 is banned in Nepal,” said an intellectual and Dalit leader Sijendra Sada. The fear among parents that they would not find a proper candidate for a grown up daughter, and if found, they have to pay for a larger dowry is one the causes prompting child marriage.”

“Since the past few years, we are dedicating time to visit villages, schools and make the people aware of impacts and negative consequences of child marriage,” he said, adding that the campaign against the early-marriage continued.

As he views, child marriage is easily acceptable in the society and it is one of the reasons for its prevalence. “Society easily accepts the underage marriage and does not view and reacts to it as a crime.”
The national penal code prohibits the underage marriage and invalidates it. Legally, it is automatically void. A person responsible for conducting the child marriage may face a jail sentence up to three years and a fine of up to Rs 30,000, according to advocate Doman Shah.

सूचना विभाग दर्ता नं. २७०८/०७७-७८

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