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Kopila Wosti: A Girls’ Dreams Shattered as Nepal Fails to Curb Child Marriage

A study by HRW organization showed that child marriage was prevalent throughout Nepal and practiced in Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian communities.

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A portrait of a girl who was married at age 16 is shown in a presentation by New York-based Human Rights Watch during the release of a report on child marriage in Nepal in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sept. 8, 2016. Image source: VOA
  • Child marriage is a serious problem in Nepal. There are laws against the practice of child marriage which make them illegal in the country but the government has not been successful in implementing such policies
  • One such case is of Kopila Wosti, who was married off by her father at the age of 14
  • She was denied a chance to get a education and choose her own partner
  • A researcher from, Human Rights Watch, conducted a study which revealed that poverty, illiteracy and society’s disapproval of unmarried women was the root cause of the practice of child marriage.

Kopila Wosti was a 14-year-old young bride, who her father married off to a 19-year-old stranger. A year later, she gave birth to a baby girl. By the time she was 20, she had three children.

“The first time I became pregnant, I was not even aware I was going to be a mother and did not know how to raise the child,” said Wosti, now 34, as she sat cross-legged on the floor of a shelter home in the Nepali capital, Kathmandu.

Separated from her husband for over a decade, Wosti blames the marriage for ruining her life — denying her the chance of going to school and of choosing a more suitable partner.

“There are women of my age who are yet to have children,” said the petite woman, dressed in a green shirt and trousers, with her long black hair tied up in a bun.

“I could have gone to school and had a better future, too. But all that is a dream now,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Law not enforced

Child marriage is illegal in Nepal, yet the impoverished Himalayan nation has failed to put in place policies to curb the practice, with almost 40 percent of girls married before age 18, a report by Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

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It found that poverty, compounded by illiteracy and society’s disapproval of unmarried women, compelled many parents to seek out husbands for their daughters.

Yet child marriage often results in a vicious cycle of malnutrition, poor health and ignorance, since a child bride is more likely to drop out of school and experience problems during pregnancy and childbirth.

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Her children are more likely to be underweight or die before age 5, said the report, which was based on over 100 interviews with children, former child brides, parents, and activists.

“Many children in Nepal, both girls, and boys, are seeing their futures stolen from them by child marriage,” said Heather Barr, women’s rights researcher at HRW.

“Nepal’s government promises to reform, but in towns and villages across the country, nothing has changed.”

Heather Barr, center, a researcher at the New York-based Human Rights Watch, speaks during the release of a report on child marriage in Nepal in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sept. 8, 2016. Image source: VOA
Heather Barr, center, a researcher at the New York-based Human Rights Watch, speaks during the release of a report on child marriage in Nepal in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sept. 8, 2016. Image source: VOA

Deep roots in society

The study showed child marriage was prevalent throughout Nepal and practiced in Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian communities.

Government officials said the deeply entrenched nature of child marriage, which the nation has vowed to end by 2030, made it hard to tackle.

“The government considers child marriage as an act of violence and is making efforts to end the scourge, which is deep rooted in the society,” Sushila Paudel, an official from Nepal’s women’s ministry, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

One-third of girls in the developing world are married before age 18, according to the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW).

Child marriage is most prevalent in sub-Saharan African countries such as Niger and Chad, but because of population size, the largest number of child brides live in South Asia.

Marriage for food

Nepal, home to 28 million people, has the third-highest rate of child marriage in Asia after Bangladesh and India, with 37 percent of girls marrying before 18.

The country outlawed the practice five decades ago with a punishment of up to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 rupees ($95). The age of marriage is set at 20 years old for both men and women.

But HRW said the law was seldom enforced, with complaints rarely investigated by police or prosecuted.

Police were not immediately available for comment. HRW said gender discrimination and poverty were key factors driving child marriage. Almost 25 percent of Nepalis live on a less than $1.25 a day.

“Some girls said they welcomed a child marriage because they hoped it might mean they had more to eat, a hope that was not always fulfilled,” the report said.

In many communities it is normal for girls to marry soon after puberty, as parents will avoid paying a higher dowry to the groom’s family if the bride is younger, it said. (VOA)

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International Girl Child Day: Celebrating Birth of a Girl Child

International Girls day is celebrated every year on 11th October in order to give the girl child the respect and dignity she deserves.

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International Girl Child Day
On this International Girl Child Day, let’s be a part of a world which celebrates the girl child and let’s do our bit in making the world a better place. Maxpixel

International Girl Child Day has been declared by the United Nations on the 11th October every year in order to celebrate the importance of the girl child. On the occasion of International Girl Child Day, let’s help to spread awareness about the various problems faced by the girl child.

Perception 

The common perception of any society, sees girls are often considered to be inferior to boys. Discrimination against girls is unchecked, Due to fear of exploitation, they are not sent to schools and denied the right to a decent education.

Due to fear of exploitation parents do not send girl child to schools. Pixabay

Female Foeticide

Female Foeticide is an issue which is prevalent in the urban and mostly in the rural areas. People who are ill-informed believe that a girl child is inferior to a boy and thus will not be able to help the family in any way other than increasing the burden of feeding another mouth on them.

Save a Girl Child and protect a woman’s Dignity.

 

Child Marriage

Child marriage is another important issue because of which girls are forced to drop out from their education at a very early age.  India has the highest number of girls forced into marriage under the legal age of 18 accounting for 10 million child brides in the world.

It accounts for more than 70000 deaths each year relating to maternal deaths from pregnancy and childbirth. They also become victims of domestic abuse and the dowry system.

In some parts of the country, family marries off the girl in early age in order to save their economic burden. The reason for child marriage being so prevalent even today lies in the dowry system practised by a large portion of the educated lot.

A 16-year-old girl stands inside a protection home on the outskirts of New Delhi, Nov. 9, 2012. She was rescued by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement), a charity which rescues victims of bonded labor. voa

Girl Child Health

In the rural areas, the health facilities are not very developed. If there is a choice between the girl and boy, most of the people will make sure that the boy remains healthy in the hope of him supporting the family in future. Health facilities are the basic amenities of life and are meant to be used by everybody equally. In India, several girl children die of malnutrition and diseases before the age of 6.  Higher rates of child marriage lead to maternity deaths arising from complications in pregnancy and giving birth and it also increases the chances of the stillborn infant.

Girl Child Trafficking

Girl child trafficking is the defined as the trade any girl child under the age of 18 for the purpose of exploitation whether inside or outside the country.  According to the National Crime Record Bureau, one child disappears in every eight minutes. Mostly these children are underage girls. They are taken from their homes and sold in the market for the purpose of begging, labor, and sexual exploitation.  Sometimes it is their own family members who sell them for the need of money or just because they think she is a burden.

Child Marriage
According to the National Crime Record Bureau, one child disappears in every eight minutes. Wikimedia

On this International Girl Child Day, let us be a part of a world which celebrates the girl child and do our bit in making the world a better place.  A very much needed change in the society is the change in the attitude of the people. They should understand the fact that girls are equal to boys in all aspects and should be given equal respect and liberty.

The childhood of a girl can be preserved if we as a society come together and make sure she is nurtured, cherished, protected and should be given freedom to choose her life the way she wants to live.

(The facts were first published by CRY ).

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Bandhan Tod : The Latest Mobile App to End Child Marriage in India’s Bihar

Despite a law banning girls from marrying before they turn 18, the practice is deeply rooted in tradition and widely accepted in Indian society.

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Child marriage
Child bride Krishna, 12, stands at a doorway into her compound in a village near Baran, in India's Rajasthan state. Despite a law banning girls from marrying before they turn 18, the practice is deeply rooted in tradition and widely accepted in Indian society. (VOA)

Bihar, September 20, 2017 : A mobile phone app is the latest tool for campaigners seeking to end child marriage in India’s Bihar state, where nearly two-thirds of girls in some of its rural areas are married before the legal age of 18.

The app, Bandhan Tod, was developed by Gender Alliance — a collective of more than 270 charities in Bihar focused on gender rights — and launched this week by Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi. It is backed by the U.N. Population Fund.

India ranks among countries with the highest rates of child marriage in the world, accounting for a third of the global total of more than 700 million women, according to UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency.

Bandhan Tod — meaning “break the binds” — includes classes on child marriage and dowries and their ill effects. It also has an SOS button that notifies the team when activated.

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“The app is a big part of our efforts to end child marriage in the state,” said Prashanti Tiwary, head of Gender Alliance.

“Education is good, but when a young girl wants help because she is being forced to marry before the legal age, the app can be her way out,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Despite a law banning girls from marrying before they turn 18, the practice is deeply rooted in tradition and widely accepted in Indian society. It is rarely reported as a crime and officials are often reluctant to prosecute offenders.

While boys also marry before the legal age of 21, girls are disproportionately affected.

Risks of abuse, death rise

Early marriage makes it more likely that girls will drop out of school, and campaigners say it also increases risks of sexual violence, domestic abuse and death in childbirth.

Legal efforts have failed to break the stranglehold of tradition and culture that continues to support child marriage, charity ActionAid India said in a report this year.

When the SOS on Bandhan Tod is activated, the nearest small NGO will attempt to resolve the issue. If the family resists, then the police will be notified, said Tiwary.

A similar app in West Bengal state to report child marriage and trafficking of women and children has helped prevent several such instances, according to Child in Need Institute, which launched the app in 2015.

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Other efforts include a cash incentive, where the state transfers a sum of money to the girl’s bank account if she remains in school and unwed at age 18.

Suppliers of wedding tents in Rajasthan state have stopped dozens of child marriages by alerting officials.

“It will take a change in mindset and behavior to end child marriage,” said Tiwary, who is lobbying the government to raise the marriage age for women to 21, so they have the same opportunities as men.

“But technology provides a practical and accessible way to help prevent it on the ground,” she said. (VOA)

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Ancient Hindu Temple Changu Narayan in Nepal Possesses Historical Significance

Changu Narayan is a sacred Hindu temple in Nepal and was built in the memory of Lord Vishnu

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Changu Narayan Temple is an ancient Hindu temple in Nepal. Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Changu Narayan is considered to be the oldest temple in Nepal
  • It is based on a high hilltop know was Changu or Dolagiri
  • It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and has an interesting tale behind it

New Delhi, July 14, 2017: The ancient Hindu temple Changu Narayan is situated on the top of a high hill well known as Changu or Dolagiri. The temple had a neighboring forest of champak tree and a small village called Changu and is situated in Bhaktapur District, Nepal.

The hill is about 7 miles or 12 km east of Kathmandu and a few miles north of Bhaktapur. This holy place “changu narayan Temple” is devoted to Lord Vishnu and held in admiration by the people of Hindu religion. Changu Narayan is believed to be the oldest temple in Nepal’s history. Bhaktapur king established kingdoms in Kashmir and kept it as Hindu kingdom.

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“changu narayan Temple” has a very intriguing story behind its existence. In old times, a Gwala, a cow herder, was given a cow by a Brahmin whose name was Sudarshan. The cow was believed to produce milk in large quantities. The cow herder used to take the cow for grazing to Change, which was a Champak trees forest that time. The cow was always found under a particular tree’s shade while grazing. In the evening, when the Gwala started milking the cow at his house, he received only a negligible quantity of milk. This continued for a number of days. He was disappointed and told the Brahmin about the cow not giving enough quantity of milk. After seeing this incident with his eyes, Sudarshan agreed and they decided that they should examine the cow while her grazing activity was being undertaken.

Changu Narayan Temple, east side, with the griffin (stone sculpture) left at the entrance. Source: Wikimedia

Both of them hid behind the trees and observed the cow. They noticed that a small black boy who had come out of the tree started feeding himself with the milk. This infuriated the two men as they thought of the boy as a demon and the tree as its home.

So the champak tree was cut down by the Brahmin. While he was doing this, he saw human blood come out of the champak tree. Both Brahmin and Gwala presumed they had done a crime and started crying.

Lord Vishnu suddenly emerged and told the Gwala and Brahmin, the mistake was not theirs and began narrating the story of him committing a crime by unknowingly murdering Sudarshan’s father while forest hunting. Afterward, he was cursed and he wandered on his mouth, as ‘Garuda’ descending on the Changu hill where he survived on stolen milk. The cutting down of the tree by Brahmin beheaded Vishnu and freed him from his sins.

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Following this incident, Brahmin and Gwala started worshiping that place and built a small temple of Lord Vishnu. That place has been considered sacred ever since. Even today, Sudarshan’s descendant is one of the priest of that temple and the Gwala’s descendants as conservators.

People belonging to Newar community reside in and around the area of Changu Narayan. Due to tourism development in this area, we can locate many hotels, souvenir shops, restaurants etc.

However, this holy temple “changu narayan” faces a lot of challenges and threats. The Manohara stream has witnessed rampant mining of sand and stones. The local administration has failed to cut down the mining activities. Due to these mining activities, the temple area has become prone to landslides. Because of overgrazing in the nearby forest, the chances of soil erosion and landslide have become very high.

– prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025