11/22/2013, 00.00
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Nepal, civil society and religions against kidnapping of child brides

by Christopher Sharma
In the western districts forced marriages are still widespread: During special "festivals", young men choose the most beautiful girls and kidnap them, forcing them to marry. In Nepal, this practice is illegal, but the silence of the people prolongs this tradition. Girls as young as 11 among victims.

Kathmandu ( AsiaNews) - In the western districts of Nepal it is still very popular - and illegal - to kidnap female children and adolescents to force them into marriage. According to a tradition, typical of Hinduism , a man may seize and take home any girl he likes . At that point, the young girl has no choice but to marry her kidnapper. However , more and more people (including Hindus ) want to stop this ritual , which often hides cases of abuse and violence against these brides .

According to Hindu tradition , such a practice may be honored during the Kojagrat Purnima , the full moon day that falls during Diwali , the " festival of lights " . In the middle of the night , males compete to " win " the most beautiful girl, kidnap and marry her. Unfortunately, even female children fall victim to this practice .

This is the case of a 11-year old , who does not want to reveal her name for fear of discovery . On 27 October, the little girl became the "prey" of Tej Bahadur Sarki , 22, from Kandagaun (district of Bajura ) . The minor was going to the house of her maternal uncle for the festival, when the young man took her and dragged her to his house , declaring her his wife.

"We are worried - says Dipak Katuwal , a man from the same village - and we want to protect our daughters . Moreover, some older men send young boys to kidnap the girls, then take them as brides . The government needs to stop this practice ."

The problem however is that these kidnappings are never reported by the families of the victims , for fear of retaliation. However, the district judge Mahesh Khatri says, " if people speak out we would be able to pursue these criminals, and charge them with rape, kidnapping and human trafficking".



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