OKHALDHUNGA, March 4: Tulasi Rai is a sixth grader at Niketan Secondary School of Manebhanjyang Rural Municpality-9, Madhavpur. According to the details provided to the school during her enrollment, she was born on April 18, 2006. She is currently 12 years old and married.
Four months ago, she tied the nuptial knot with Min Bahadur Magar, 17, of Manebhanjyang-8. Before marriage, Min Bahadur used to stay at his maternal home in Madhavpur while Tulasi lived with her sister. As they lived in the same village, they started talking to each other and eventually fell in love.
"After our first meeting, we spoke over the phone for about a month and then tied the knot," said Min Bahadur. According to him, many of his friends had got married before him so he thought his marriage would not be a big deal. They had met only three or four times before their marriage.
Tulasi who is an introvert said, "As I had always lived with my parents and then with my sister, I cried a lot missing my family after my marriage." Both of them are unaware about the disadvantages of early marriage. They have not heard about the new civil code either. Tulasi has stopped going to school after her marriage.
Hira Bahadur Ale Magar, father of the groom said, "My son had sought suggestion from me for the marriage. I told him not to do so as they were both young. However, they still got married and came home." According to him, he just scolded them but did not try to break their marriage.
The details provided by the eight secondary schools in the local unit shows that 45 children have got married in Manebhanjyang since August 17, 2018. Sabita Rai, vice-chairperson of the rural municipality claims that the local unit has spent Rs 1.2 million on awareness campaigns to curb child marriage in the current fiscal year. "Last fiscal year we spent Rs. 1 million on awareness programs. This year we have spent more than Rs 1.2 million," said Rai.
Meanwhile, Rajiv Shrestha, Police Inspector at District Police Office (DPO), Okhaldhunga, said not even a single complaint has been filed against child marriage in the district.
As per the new civil code, no one is allowed to get married before the age of 20. By breaching the law, if anyone is found getting married before the eligible age, their marriage will be scrapped. Not just that, they can be subjected to three years in prison and also charged with certain amount of fine.