BAITADI, Oct 3: Child marriage is rampant in Baitadi. Both 'puppy love' between adolescents and traditional practice of child marriage is generally blamed for this illegal act. However, with the growing number of girls participating in awareness campaign against early marriage, the practice is expected to decline.
Girls have initiated programs against child marriage in 11 VDCs of Baitadi. They discuss among themselves and in mass about the consequences of child marriage. The awareness classes are getting very interesting and both the youths and elders are beginning to take their actions positively, the participants said. According to Manmati Telar of Hatairaj, president of 'Girl's group' in the VDC, thorough discussion on the subject brings many other related things to the fore. The group talk is helping them to better understand early motherhood, child's and women's health, school dropout rate of girl students and poverty, among several other issues.
"We talk about the malpractice of child marriage. We talk about our rights, freedom and dreams as well," Telar said.
The groups of girls strictly conduct classes every Saturday. Adolescent girls of the given VDC participate in the awareness class. According to Telar, girls of Haitairaj, Gurukhola, Dehimandau, Bhenauli, Rim, Gokuleshwor, Shiddheswar, Salena and Dasharath Chand VDCs among others have been running the campaign.
"We form groups and then conduct classes. We also raise awareness among the mass. Everything is going very interesting," she said.
According to Chudamani Paneru, secretary of Udaydev VDC, deep rooted culture of child marriage may not be uprooted so easily. However, with young girls, who are of the same age as that of the victims of child marriage, coming forward against the practice, there is a ray of hope.
"This culture is more rampant in the rural areas. This is a huge social ill. However, since girls themselves are showing interest to stop it, we can be hopeful that this practice would be stopped in time to come," he noted.
Meanwhile, Ganesh Shahi, district officer of Population Council of UN stated that the girls came together against child marriage with an aim to declare their VDCs 'child friendly VDC'. He stated that it is a move to erase all kinds of social ills in the villages. He added that the youngsters have also been showing street drama and singing Deuda songs in order to raise awareness.