Early marriage still common among Doti girls

By Our Correspondent

Doti, Nov. 1: Hira Khadka of Bajhkakani in Adarsha Rural Municipality Doti district , is just 20 years, but she is already the mother of two kids.
Khadka is not the only mother at this tender age in the district. There are several women who have given birth to their babies before reaching 20. This is all because of the common practice among girls to tie their nuptial knot even before crossing 18 years.
Early marriage is more common in the rural areas. During the last fiscal year, out of the total pregnant women in the district, 20 per cent of them were aged below 20 years.
Focal person of family planning at the District Health Office (DHO), Doti, Kapil Dev Joshi informed that out of total 5,537 pregnant women in the district last year, 1,082 were girls aged below 20 years.
According to Joshi, the data was prepared on the basis of the pregnant women who visited the DHO for their health check-up.
“But there are many women in the district who gave birth in their home without receiving any checkup and support from the health workers,” he added.
Considering this, the number of women giving birth to their child before 20 is much higher than what is recorded at the DHO, added Joshi.
As per the data obtained by the DHO during the fiscal year 2074/75 B.S, out of 74 women who reached the health offices for abortion, 44 were girls in their teens. In Nepal, 20 years is the legal age for marriage. But in rural areas the girls get married before they turn 18.
Prevalence of child marriage is attributed to the poor sex education, said Joshi.
Similarly, the health risks, along with complications from unsafe abortions, were the major causes of death among female adolescents, said the health experts.
Giving birth at early age is one of the major reasons behind the uterus prolapse in Nepal, they informed,
Acting Chief of DHO, Dr. Bhushan Mishra said conceiving and delivering a baby before 18 can result in life-threatening complications. Of them, uterus prolapse is the major health risk caused by early pregnancy, he added.
Mishra said unlike previous days, adolescent boys and girls are found marrying on their own choice. There us growing popularity of love marriage among the adolescent girls and boys in the district.
Increased literacy and access to mass media are said to play a big role to enable the adolescents to talk to their peers without their parent’s knowledge, said Mishra.
In villages, dating is often considered wrong because of the social norms. Due to this when adolescent couple decides to be together, eloping against their parents’ wish is their only choice, he added.
This is seen to be different from traditional arranged marriages, added Mishra.

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