Nepal | July 03, 2020

‘Social awareness key to ending child marriage’

Himalayan News Service
Share Now:

Kathmandu, September 14

Lawyers and stakeholders have said that criminalisation of child marriage as provisioned in the new penal code alone would not solve problems.

Participants of a talk programme organised by SAARC Law, Nepal on child marriage said annulling child marriage could result in non-registration of children born to underage parents and girls facing disproportionate consequences. They said  child marriage was outlawed in the past too, but that did not solve the problems  as many other  issues, such as social awareness against the evil and society’s attitude that girls should remain chaste before marriage remained unaddressed.

The new penal code has stipulated that if marriage is solemnised between two people’s below the age of 20 years, then that would be voided.

Women rights activist Indu Panta said child marriage was a self-initiated act in the hills whereas in the Tarai it was a coping strategy as Dalit families wary of dowry chose to marry their daughters when they are still children. “There is a concept that they will have to pay lower dowry if their daughters are younger,” she said.  She said child marriage was taking place also because parents were of the view that their daughters would remain chaste before marriage and they would marry in their own caste. Stating that comprehensive sex education could help discourage child marriage, Panta said the irony was that teachers in remote villages were scared of teaching sex education because they feared reprisal from conservative villagers for whom sex remained a taboo.

Human rights activist Shyam Babu Kafle said stakeholders should discuss seriously whether forcing people to marry only after reaching 20 years of age would be practical.

Advocacy manager of World Vision Rabindra Gautam said if marriage below the age of 20 years were annulled then many children born out of such marriage might not be registered in the government data and they could be deprived of state facilities. “In China lakhs of children were not registered when parents violated one-child policy,” he argued.

Former Attorney General Hari Phuyal said the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizen needed to launch social awareness and other programmes to facilitate the implementation of the new anti-child marriage provision.

Attorney General Agni Prasad Kharel said problems might arise due to criminalisation of child marriage, but the government must put in place mechanisms to deal with the impacts and not try to lower the age of marriageable age.

Supreme Court Justice Sapana Pradhan Malla said 38 per cent children get married before reaching marriage age and therefore, criminalisation of child marriage alone would not solve the problem.

“If child marriage is annulled, the consequence that can arise out of it should also be weighed. In our society once a girl loses virginity which the child marriage can result in, it will be difficult for the girl to get remarried and thus girls will be disproportionately affected,” she said and added that the government must also think of the future of the child conceived by underage girl.  She said people in developing countries were increasingly voicing concerns that annulling child marriage was not the right solution.

Another SC Justice Hari Krishna Karki said child marriage should be discouraged but criminalization of child marriage alone would not be enough. “The focus should be on the societal awareness,” he added.


A version of this article appears in print on September 15, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

TUTH. Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Teaching Hospital, Maharajgunj

49-day-old infant diagnosed with Covid-19 passes away in Kathmandu

KATHMANDU: A 49-day-old infant diagnosed with Covid-19 passed away on Wednesday evening at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH), where he was receiving treatment. Ministry of Health and Population, in its regular press briefing, confirmed the passing of the baby. The infant -- resident o Read More...

PM advised to reach out to rival NCP faction

Kathmandu, July 1 A day after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was asked by Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Standing Committee members to resign from both the posts of prime minister and party co-chair, the PM was advised by his aides in the party to reach out to the rival faction. Oli held a meeting Read More...

Nepal could witness yet another huge locust invasion

Kathmandu, July 1 The Locusts Information Centre has warned that a large swarm of locusts is likely to enter Nepal from India over the next couple of days. According to the centre, the swarm of locusts is headed towards Darjeeling from Bhagalpur and Motihari in Bihar. As the swarm is likely to Read More...

Hunger strike by youth activists enters sixth day

KATHMANDU, JULY 1 Iih, 26, who initiated ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign demanding effective handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by the government, has been on fastunto-death in a sattal (rest house) at Patan Durbar Square as his hunger strike entered the sixth day today. Iih has been joined by Read More...

‘Citizenship bill not inclusive’

KATHMANDU, JULY 1 Although the constitution is progressive in terms of citizenship issues it does not guarantee equality. Even after five years of the promulgation of the constitution, necessary amendments have yet to be made to Citizenship Act-2006, as per the provisions of the constitution. Read More...


Mexican president to hold first meeting with Trump, Democrats unimpressed

MEXICO CITY: Mexico's president and his US counterpart Donald Trump will hold their first meeting on July 8 in Washington, officials said on Wednesday, sparking complaints from Democratic lawmakers, who saw it as a political stunt with elections looming. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ha Read More...

Twitter removes image tweet by Trump over copyright complaint

Twitter Inc has taken down an image tweet by the US President Donald Trump on June 30, in response to a report from a copyright holder. Twitter now displays the message “This image has been removed in response to a report from the copyright holder,” in place of the tweet. News website Axio Read More...

Gunmen kill 24 people in attack on Mexican drug rehab center

MEXICO CITY: At least 24 people were killed in an armed attack on a drug rehabilitation facility in the central Mexican city of Irapuato, Mexican police said on Wednesday, underlining the challenge the government has in fulfilling a pledge to stop gang violence. Police in the city in Guanajuato s Read More...