Nepal, taken from school and given in marriage: the plight of child brides
Although against the law, the practice of child brides for dowries is still widespread in the country. Educated girls cost greater sums of money because they must marry a higher-ranking man. To spend less, thousands of poor families withdraw their daughters from the schools. Activist: "It 'a chronic problem."
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Taken from school and given in marriage while still children to cost less in terms of a dowry. That's what happens every year to hundreds of thousands of Nepalese girls, where higher education is denied for economic reasons.
The more educated a woman becomes, the more her future partner will have to be of high rank, and therefore the more expensive the marriage. Poor families choose to withdraw daughters from school to spend as little as possible in terms of the dowry. About 28% of girls are affected by this, and the highest rate is found in the southern Terai region, where the dowry is prohibited by law but widespread among Hindus and Muslims.
The dowry is the gift that is given to the groom by the father of her daughter. In some communities it is seen as a sign of good will, in others it is considered mandatory.
Nepal operate various NGOs, local and foreign, engaged in the eradication of marriages between minors, such as the "Child Marriage and Dowry Elimination National Campaign Nepal". However, until now these organizations have not been successful. Raj Kumar Mahato, campaign coordinator in madhese communities of Rajbiraj district, says: "We are doing our best to discourage the practice of forced dowries, but it is difficult to eliminate because the more education you have, the more your dowry should be. The community here is so poor that children are forced to borrow money to go to high schools, and they often use the dowry given by the father of their future wife ".
Once married, says Mahato, girls cannot continue their studies: "83% of young girls are given in marriage before age 18. 28% before they reach 15”. The local director of educational institutes confirms that "about 50% of the girls stop going to school after marriage. The problem is chronic. "
Rajendra Sriwastav the father of two daughters: "I am a poor man - he says - and I can guarantee two meals a day with my daily wages. How can I afford my daughters dowry if I send them to school? I kept them up to fifth grade but then I have withdrawn them, so give them in marriage to less educated men and spend less. "
Activist CK Singh, says that Nepal is in tenth place in the world ranking of countries where most marriages occur between minors. The problem, he says, cannot be solved in Nepal without involving the northern provinces of India (such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand), since mixed marriages between Indians and Nepalese often occur.
Ananda, Minister of Nepalese Culture, says: "We cannot tackle everything at once. The law clearly says that the practice of dowry is not allowed, but no one is brought before the court of justice and the people continue to fall into the temptation of materialism. Religious leaders should discourage this practice among believers".