Nepal | November 20, 2019

EDITORIAL: A many-sided problem

Himalayan News Service

The people should also be made aware of the evils or dangers of child marriage from all possible angles – legal, social, physical, moral, etc

Old habits die hard. This is most manifest in the centuries-old, or even millennia-old, social practice of marrying teenage or preteen-age boys and girls. Superstition and illiteracy feed such evils. That is why the practice of child marriage, though it has declined in urban society and among the educated families, is still running strong among the rural population and among the illiterate. This is true of the Nepalese hills or the plains, though more frequent and more powerful among the uneducated families in the Terai where the cross-border social influences, including the evil of the dowry system, have made a considerable impact. Social campaigns at various levels and government’s encouragement to such campaigns have contributed in their own ways to reducing the practice of child marriage, so have the increasing education among the people and the law banning child marriage.

But still, news reports of child marriages come to public notice from time to time, so are the social commitments to end this evil. The latest example has come from Gaighat in Udayapur district where various organizations have made a public pledge to drive this practice out of the district. The ramifications of this practice go far beyond. Medical research has proved that until girls attain physical maturity, marriage puts them at a great risk to their health, including from child-bearing. That is why the law has put the minimum marriageable ages of bride and groom at 20 years. Not only from the health grounds but from several other perspectives as well child marriage is a bane of society. From the viewpoint of mental maturity too, early marriage has unpleasant consequences for both the bride and groom – such as that at early age they are not in a position to earn, despite the fact that marriage involves financial responsibilities. Early marriage also, in most cases, plays havoc with the prospects of personality development of both boys and girls, and it is unlikely that they can continue their education much longer when married at an early age.

Not the least important is the fact that child marriage constitutes a gross violation of a fundamental or human right of an individual to choose their life partner of their own accord. In child marriage both boys or girls or in many cases girls have not developed a maturity of mind to decide what is right for them; in a number of cases they do not know the full implications of a marriage. According to one estimate, nearly half of all the women in the country between the ages of 20 and 49 years were married off before they had completed 18 years of age, and 15 percent of them even before turning 15. A special Girl Empowerment Programme of the government aims to do away with child marriage in the country by the year 2030. To meet this target, however, a multi-pronged attack on the problem should be launched, including, of course, rigorous application of the law against child marriage. The people should also be made aware of the evils or dangers of child marriage from all possible angles – legal, social, physical, moral, etc.

Waste to energy

For long there has been talk about generating electricity from the huge amount of wastes Kathmandu Valley generates. The office of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City is apparently now taking up the cause seriously but if they fail to do so like in the past it would achieve nothing substantial. The target set is to convert wastes within three months. The European Union and KMC would be providing 80 per cent and 20 per cent of the costs respectively. The project would cost Rs. 20 million. For this the metropolis would install a state-of-the-art plant at Teku with the capacity of generating about 14 KW of energy at first. This plant would have the capacity of treating 300 tonnes of biodegradable wastes every day that would provide the much needed energy and also valuable organic fertilizer, liquid petroleum gas and precious drinking water.

Wastes amounting to about 450 tonnes are produced each day in the capital city out of which 63
per cent consists of organic wastes. The local community would also be expected to segregate the bio-degradable and non-biodegradable wastes. The project, if successfully implemented, would be a big help to tackle problems caused by unmanaged household wastes.

A version of this article appears in print on April 11, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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