KATHMANDU, March 24: With 51 percent of Nepali girls marrying before 18, Nepal stands second among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of child marriage prevalence, a report says.
The UNICEF report 2011 shared in the capital Friday stands in drastic contradiction to the figure presented by the government at the same program. The Ministry of Health and Population claims that only 23 percent of girls and 8 percent of boys have been found to have tied nuptial knot before the prescribed age.
While the figures of the national and international agencies failed to concur, the experts in the program, however, univocally spoke for the need to save the young children from falling into the trappings of early marriage as it adversely impacts the girls´ health, nutrition, education and the course of their entire life. Most dangerously, girls face the risk of health complications like fistula and urinary prolapse at a later stage if child marriages are not prevented.
The UNICEF and the government study, however, had similar conclusion regarding the reason for the prevalence of early marriage – as a socially sponsored phenomenon practiced nationwide.
According to UNICEF report an estimated 10 million girls worldwide get married before they turn 18, which translates to 25,000 young girls everyday or 19 girls per minute.
On the other hand, Upendra Adhikary, Under Secretary at the Ministry of Women and Children said that the government in 2011 conducted a survey in 3450 out of 3915 VDCs that showed child marriage among the age group 10-14 was just 0.36 percent for girls and 0.03 percent for boys.
Similarly, under the age of 19, 18 percent of girls and 5 percent of boys tied the knot while the figure rose to a whopping 68 percent for girls in the age group of 20 to 24 and 38 percent for boys in the same age group.
Speaking at the program organized by the national network to end child marriage which is affiliated to ´Girls are not brides´, a global partnership to end child marriage that was launched in 2011 in New York, Adhikary said, “Even though the data of the UNICEF and the government vary, the bottom line is that child marriage is still prevalent in Nepal and has to be combated with all our might.”ANJALI SUBEDI from Republica