No end to tragedy of child brides
by Christopher Sharma

The Hindu tradition says that a female married before she is fully developed will be holy and destined for paradise. Member of Caritas: "The girls that are given away in marriage at 7-8 years of age are victims of domestic violence, rapes and abuses. They cannot go to school and are likely to be infected with HIV. 

 Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - The girls who marry too early, "cannot go to school, are very often victims of domestic violence, abuse and rapes. They become pregnant while they are still children themselves and even risk contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV”, warns from Arpana Thapa, member of Caritas Nepal.   She was reacting to data on the "child brides" in Nepal published on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child (October 11, which was celebrated in Nepal on 22).

According to the "Every Last Girl" published by Save the Children because of this anniversary, every seven seconds a girl child under 15 years of age is forced to marry a man much older than her. A survey carried out by UNICEF reports that to date women who were married in childhood are 700 million, in 2030 that number will be 950 million.

Nepal is one of the countries where this phenomenon is more widespread. The reason lies in the Hindu tradition according to which a female married before she is fully developed will be holy and destined for paradise. Thus many girls are given in marriage at 8 or 9 years of age with the rite of Bell Bibaha, through which they are linked to the Hindu god Shiva.

Anuradha Koirala, elected activist "Hero of the Year" by CNN in 2010, has been fighting against this practice for a long time: "In Nepal the Hindu tradition that considers their daughters a burden of which parents should be free is very deep. Many girls are victims of human trafficking, they are tortured and rejected by their husbands as adults. I met a girl of 13 years, married for one year and already pregnant. She told me that her misery began when she was given in marriage, and that little girl must now raise a child".

In addition, the social stigma affects young people who fall in love before they get married, humiliating the whole family. For this reason they are given in marriage before they meet other people. The poverty of the Nepalese society is another factor that pushes families to rid themselves of the economic cost of a daughter as soon as possible.

According to the Ministry of Women and Children, at least 37% of girls are married before age 18 (the legal age to take a husband).