“I did not get proper care during pregnancy and post delivery. So my while body aches now,” said a visibly lean and weak Binakumari carrying her six-month-old baby girl.
“I hardly had any idea that I would be a mom. It took me months to realize that I had become pregnant. Now my daughter has already become six months old, but I still find it hard to believe,” she added.
Binakumari was married to Sandesh BK one-and-a-half years ago. And that changed her life for the worse. Not only did she stop going to school but she had to forgo her usual dresses for traditional attires though she still loved wearing her school dress. “I used to wear my school dress even after marriage. But later I started wearing gunyau cholo. That is what daughter-in-laws are supposed to wear,” she sounded nostalgic.
According to Binakumari, girls of her age in her village are now in grade nine while her husband is in the 10th grade. But she stopped going to school after studying till the sixth grade. “I will never be allowed to go to school now. Everything has changed. My friends go to school and I go to fields carrying doko (wicker basket) to cut grass for cattle,” she compared.
Though the legal marriageable age for women is 18, early marriage is prevalent across the country. According to UNICEF, 51 percent of Nepali girls marry before they reach 18. This places Nepal in the second position among 10 countries with the highest child marriage prevalence rate.
Meanwhile, Dr Yudhisthir Khada of the district hospital, Rukum said girls who give birth to babies in very early age face the risk of health complications like fistula and urinary prolapse. “On the other hand, such mothers are not capable of taking proper care of their babies,” he added.