ROLPA, May 12: Even though the number of child marriages is extensively high in Rolpa, very few cases of this ill-practice are reported to police. The government has criminalized child marriage, yet those practicing and encouraging child marriage are neither punished nor ostracized by the law enforcing agencies.
As per the law, a marriage between people below 20 years of age will be scrapped. Not just that, they may be fined or even jailed for breaching the law. However, even 'civilized' and 'educated' people including elected local representatives tend to hide the cases of child marriage or speak nothing on the issue.
A report prepared by Rolpa District Public Health Office (DPHO) last year showed that 29.43 per cent of women coming for a pregnancy test were below 20 years. A study conducted by Tribhuwan University with the help of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2017 showed that 30.14 per cent women in Rolpa got married before reaching 20 years of age.
As mentioned in the report, 15.24 per cent of women belonging to that age group deliver their first baby before becoming eligible for marriage. Another research carried out the same year shows that 39 per cent of girls are just 18 years old when they get married while 6.8 per cent of them get married before 15.
But still very few of these cases have been reported to police. In fiscal year 2016/17, only two cases of child marriage were filed at the District Police Office (DPO) while in fiscal year 2017/18, only one such case was filed. Surprisingly, not even a single such case has been filed in the current fiscal year.
“Not even a single complaint of child marriage has been filed so far. But we did arrest some children who had run away from their homes to get married. Later, we handed them over to their parents,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Deepak Khadka
As child marriage is developing as a serious problem, Rolpa Municipality has planned to end this ill-practice within the next five years. Although various local units have launched different programs for curbing child marriage, these programs are yet to show effective results.
Child marriage has also given rise to abortions in our society. It also causes several reproductive problems in girls. After getting married at a young age, a large number of children, especially girls, leave their education halfway.