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Because She is a Girl

Bhumika Ghimire and Anuja Upadhyay

Ideally shouldn’t marriages be a cause of celebration universally? But can it be so when the bride involved is a girl child?

Millions of children (especially girls) throughout South Asia, Africa and Middle East are affected by early marriages resulting in high rate of maternal mortality as a result of it. Poverty is one of the main causes of early marriage in many developing countries. Usually young girls are married off at a very early age and moreover to much older men.

Lack of awareness, missed educational opportunity, harmful cultural beliefs and practices, gender discrimination- are all causes of early marriages amongst girls. Poor families do it in order to settle debts, make money or escape poverty. The girls are sold not only into marriages but also into prostitution-also making them vulnerable to HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

Nepal is one of the leading countries in the South Asia region for early marriage practices after Bangladesh. According to United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), 51% of Nepalis marry before reaching adulthood. Early marriage is a problem plaguing villages across the country. The practice is not uncommon even in some urban areas. The fact that more than half of the population are married as children shows that years of campaigning and millions of rupees spent on ending this appalling practice has not been as effective as envisaged.

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