Child marriage rampant in Dhankuta

Dhankuta, May 23

A large number of boys and girls tie the knot before they reach 15 years in Dhankuta district, which has resulted in severe social problems, say child rights activists.

“Above 25 per cent youngsters in Mahabharat region of Sangurigadi Rural Municipality, an area adjoining district headquarters Dhankuta,  get married while still under-age,” said a teacher at Golkhadhi Secondary School of the district.

Scores of couples are studying in the secondary schools of Sangurigadi Rural Municipality and Dhankuta Municipality, according to school sources. Two couples in grade VI, one couple in grade VII and five couples each in grades IX and X are studying at a secondary school in Sangurigadi. The head teacher of the school refused to disclose their identity.

According to guardians, more than 25 couples studying in different secondary schools in Dhankuta Municipality tied the knot without their parents’ consent. There are more married couples attending schools in rural areas than in urban locations. However, around similar number of couples drop out from school after the wedding, while some of them opt for child labour due to financial vulnerability.

The growing use of mobile phone and social network such as facebook, twitter and imo, among others, helps children get closer and sometimes have affairs which results in physical relationship and finally marriage, as per the recent study of District Child Welfare Committee Dhankuta.

“Though the early marriages get gradual approval from their parents and society, it causes problems in marriage registration, registration of child birth and enrolment of the children at schools,” said Dhankuta Municipality ward 3 Chair Bikash Ghimire.  He said that the trend of watching porn videos, movies and other activities among children is growing with the availability of mobile phones. Many of them are also found going out for recreational activities instead of attending school.

Many girls give birth to two to three children by the time they reach the age of marriage. As per District Hospital Dhankuta, a total of 25 per cent under-age pregnant women approach the health facilities for regular check-up.