Child marriage is decreasing in many parts of the world, with global rates dropping substantially over the past decade, according to The New York Times, largely because of progress in South Asia. Yet in Nepal, one of the region’s poorest countries, activists say these marriages are on the rise in some villages.
Nepal’s government is moving forward with a campaign to combat the practice, but serious challenges loom, activists say. In rural areas, for instance, some local elected officials who publicly oppose the practice still marry off their children as teenagers. In addition, literacy rates are low, while mobile phones and social media have made it easier to find partners, the Times reports.
Further, some villagers see the practice as economically necessary, according to the Times. Every year, for example, hundreds of thousands of men leave Nepal for construction jobs in the Persian Gulf to earn money for their families. Poorer families see logic in marrying their daughters to boys before they head abroad.
With villages devoid of men, “families need girls to take care of the elderly and handle household activities,” said Tarak Dhital, an activist in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital.
Girls are often taken out of school once they start to menstruate, a sign to some families that they are ready for marriage.
“It is so hard to change people’s thinking,” said Ram Bahadur Chand, an official with Nepal’s child welfare board. “They do not see that child marriage destroys their futures. It is a kind of violence.”
Read the full story at The New York Times.