Kathmandu, January 24
The Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens has issued a model procedure for carrying out programmes at the local levels to eliminate social anomalies and malpractices like child marriage.
As per the existing law, child marriage is referred to as a marriage entered into by a male or a female individual before attaining the minimum legal age of 20 years. The ministry said that this procedure aimed to incorporate anti-child marriage programmes into periodic and annual plan and programme of the local levels and implement the same in an effective manner; ensure the participation of male children, teenagers and men in the fight against child marriage; and develop capacity of and mobilise children, teenagers, parents, guardians, teachers, political and religious leaders and other stakeholders.
The programmes to be conducted by the local levels include awareness raising on child rights, sexuality, sexual and reproductive health and rights focusing anti-child marriage campaign; training for child clubs and communities; development of child-friendly infrastructures; formation and mobilisation of child and youth clubs exclusively against such social malpractice; conduct of awareness programmes at the family level in association with governmental, non-governmental and private organisations; and ending child marriage, gender discrimination and patriarchal attitude.
According to the procedure, local levels shall mobilise the funds obtained from various sources against child marriage and other forms of violence against minors. It requires them to send progress report to the ministry and concerned provincial government on an annual basis.
A study report released by the Central Bureau of Statistics shows that two out of 10 women between 15 and 49 years of age were first married before the age of 15.
According to Nepal Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey- 2014, child marriage still persists in the Nepali society although the minimum legal age for marriage is 20 years for both male and female.
Before the age of 18, girls are neither physically nor emotionally ready to become wives or mothers. The report said child marriage not only deprived girls of education, but it often made them vulnerable to a cycle of discrimination, domestic violence and abuse. It has advised children to make parents aware that an individual must attain at least 20 years of age to get married.
A version of this article appears in print on January 25, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.