KATHMANDU, Nepal–Radhika Devi Bhatta of Baitadi, Shiva Nagar is only 24, but she is already a mother of three children. Her eldest child is 10 years old while her youngest son now crawls across the yard of her house in a remote village.
Bhatta’s parents got her married as soon as she entered at her 13, the very age when the teenager are child enough to think about marriage, children and maternal health.
She was too young when she gave birth her first child at the age of fifteen. Bhatta is now a patient of sugar and suffers from headache. Not only she, but her all the three children needs regular check up. Her Husband who toils in the gulf countries is the sole bread and butter of Bhatta’s family, according to the reports published on today’s Nepalese newspaper.
Twenty-four-year-old Rama Devi Rasaili of the same district is married with four children. She was forced to tie the nuptial knot with a man at running his twenties while she was just 15 years old.
She too suffers from various diseases. Her eldest daughter is eight years old while her husband is a daily wage labourer. Due to her poor health condition, she needs to visit at the clinic once a week. She seems pale and feeble and even unable to work household activities.
Bhatta and Rasail got married a decade ago. They are the representative women who became the victims of child marriage in the far western province of Nepal.
Though it is strictly restricted by the current law, child marriage is rampant across the country.
The minimum legal age for marriage in Nepal is 20 without parental consent and 18 with consent. Yet, according to the 2011 census (carried out each five years), approximately 75 percent of married women had wed before the age of 20 and over 100,000 girls were married before the age of 10.
The practice is most common among the rural belts and terai lowland where it is estimated that 80 percent of children there get married before the age of twenty.
Domestic violence, dowry culture, polygamy, marital rapes are the major causes behind such ill practice in the Himalayan nation. Beside this, illiteracy, lack of awareness and poverty is letting the bad tradition continue.
United Nations (UN) has rated Nepal among top 10 nations in the world that practice child marriage. According to the reports one among three girls get married before the age criteria fixed by the law in Nepal.