Sahadev Karki

Lahan, February 15:

A five-year-old boy was scheduled to tie the knot with a three-year-old girl tomorrow, were it not for the timely intervention of the social workers active in the local area.

The proposed marriage was between one Jitan Marik’s son, Bhola, of Siraha’s Shishwani VDC ward no 2, and Janaki, daughter of Mikan Marik, of Saptari Bajrahar.

Bhola’s mother Sunita, who was in Lahan bazaar today to buy a pig for the marriage feast, said child marriage is a part of Dome culture, adding that she was for maintaining it.

“All preparations for the marriage are complete. The wedding should take place tomorrow as per the schedule,” she said.

However, she later agreed to cancel the marriage, though unwillingly, thanks to the tireless effort of the local social workers.

“She proposed the bride’s side be convinced first,” Umesh Bishunke of the Dalit Janakalyan Yuba Club, said: “A non-government organisation working for the Dalits in Saptari managed to do just that.” The Dalit social workers were also able to stop another child marriage after Sunita informed them of another underage marriage taking place at Saptari’s Kadmaha.

Last year, the Shishwani village had hosted a child marriage. There are seven Dome families in the area.

Child marriage is rampant in the Dome community, Sunita said. The main concern of the parents was that they would have hard time finding appropriate partners for their children once they grow up.

But once the Dome community members are made aware of the legal and practical aspects of child marriage, many say they favour total abolishment of child marriages in Dome community, Ram Chandra Marik, president of the Dome Mestar Upliftment Committee, said.