Child marriage alarmingly prevalent in Bajura

BAJURA: A recent survey shows that child marriage is alarmingly prevalent in Bajura district despite increase in access to education and various awareness campaigns.

The survey conducted by Save the Children and PeaceWin in coordination with 12 VDCs and 12 Village Child Protection Committees has shown that of total marriages held in the surveyed 12 VDCs in a year, 70 per cent were incidents of early marriage.

From mid-April 2015 to the same date next year, total 402 children married in the surveyed area, according to Bale Bishwakarma of Save the Children.

"Of them, 229 are girls and 173 boys," he added.

Of total early marriage cases, 91 per cent have been decided by children themselves whereas nine per cent by their parents and guardians.

Bai, Jagannath, Pandusen, Kotila, Jugada, Budhiganga, Mankot, Gudukhati, Barhabis, Barhamtola, Toli and Chhatara VDCs were covered in the study.

Of them, Toli has been identified as the most problematic as all marriages held in the period were early marriages, according to study.

Following Toli are, Budhiganga (77 per cent) and Chhatara (44 per cent).

Most of the children involved in wedding are secondary students while only five per cent of those married are found to be illiterate.

The survey has identified pressure from peers and families, traditional beliefs, exposure to mobile phone communication and lack of knowledge about legal provisions as major reasons behind the prevalence of child marriage.

Despite the prevalence, concerned district authorities have no record of anyone being punished for early marriages.

Five VDCs of the district have already been child marriage-free.

Marrying before the age of 18 is considered child marriage in Nepal.