Anti-Child marriage campaign tackles challenges in Banke

Local News

Banke, December 1: Stakeholders have stressed that campaigns against child marriage in Banke face several challenges due to cultural norms.

Government and non-government organisations are joining hands across Banke to declare wards of the district as ‘child marriage free’ areas but argued it was not an easy task.

“The majority of communities in the district are Madheshi, Muslim and Tharu. The culture of solemnising marriage in small age is common among the communities and it is hard to make them convince that it is wrong,” said Kumar Shreevastav, chief of Banke’s District Coordination Committee.

According to Shreevastav, several approaches over the years have helped reduce the cases of child marriage but the problem still lingered.

Child marriages have been reported from both rural and urban areas of Banke.

Simlarly, Istiyak Ahamad Sah, chairman of Narainapur Rural Municipality, stated that people belonging to Madheshi and Muslim community still stuck to the tradition of child marriage.

“We had even asked social activists, seniors, political leaders and other respected members of the society to make people aware of the harmful practice of child marriage,” said Sah. Amid the challenges, some wards of Banke have been declared as ‘child marriage free’.

“Putting an end to the tradition of child marriage is difficult but not impossible. People will agree if the approach is correct but it is easier said than done,” said Dhani Kumari Khatri, deputy chairman of Rapti-Sonari Rural Municipality.

Alongside quality approach, Khatri argued that local levels should bring strict policies against the bad practice. “If anyone is found to have performed child marriage, s/he should not be provided services like birth certificate and citizenship recommendation, among others,” said Khatri.

Ward 3 and 7 of Rapti-Sonari have already been declared ‘child marriage free’. “Ward 6 has been declared free of child marriage and is awaiting inspection. It was difficult because we needed to make people realise what is wrong with the tradition they have been following,” said Janak Tharu, chairman of Ward 6.

Several organisations including Plan International Nepal and UNESCO have supported the campaign to declare local levels of Banke as areas free of child marriage.

“With more people getting education, evil practices have declined over the years but not eradicated. Proper analysis and strategies are required to make more population aware,” said Pravej Ali Siddhiqui, coordinator of UNESCO club, Banke.



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