Every year millions of adolescents are forced to become victims of practices that harm them physically and emotionally with the full knowledge and consent of their family, friends, and community. According to a UNFPA report, at least 19 harmful practices around the world, from mammography to virginity testing, are considered human rights violations. Among these practices, the report emphasizes child marriage and the desire for a son more than a daughter, and female genital mutilation.
UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem says. “”Dangerous behavior towards adolescents leads to serious abuse, depriving them of the right to full development ” .
Nepal is also one of the Asian countries with the highest rate of child marriage. In Nepal, the legal age of marriage for both adolescents is 20 years, but 40 percent of adolescents get married within 18 years. Today’s need is to invest in adolescents with access to education and health care, to increase their marriage age and to ensure that they do not have children early.
At the same time, the culture of giving priority to sons over daughters has led to increased gender discrimination and increased gender disparities in newborn births due to increased choice of sons. In Nepal, there were 103 newborn male babies out of every 100 newborn babies born in 2005. In 2015, there was an increase of 110 newborn male babies out of 100 newborn female babies. These figures reflect the increasing practice of abortion due to the existing gender inequality, the devaluation of daughters, the declining fertility rate, and the increased desire for sons over daughters.
Nepal has ratified international conventions on child rights. Dangerous acts against teenagers by family members, religious communities, health care providers, commercial enterprises, or any other state body need to be stopped. Nepal has progressive laws but laws alone are not enough.
The UNFPA report shows that decades of experience and research will make it easier to bring about change through grassroots involvement. Dr. Kanem states, “The causes of the problem need to be addressed, especially in the context of gender equality.” It is certain that the whole community will benefit if we can give more energy to the ongoing efforts in the community to end such practices against adolescents. ”
The report adds, “The economy and legal systems that support adolescents must be restructured to guarantee equal opportunities for every woman.”
For example, changing laws on equal rights to ancestral property may end the practice of encouraging sons in the family rather than daughters. ”
It is possible to end child marriage Nepal within 10 years through initiatives to keep adolescents in school for a long time and to teach them life skills. In addition, adolescents should be involved in social change. While progress is being made to end some of the world’s most harmful practices, the Covid-19 epidemic has signaled a reversal of progress. A recent UNFPA study found that 13 million more adolescents worldwide will be forced to marry by 2030, when services and programs remain the same for six months.
Dr. Kanem says, “The epidemic has made our work more complicated and even more urgent as many adolescents are still at risk. We will not stop until all adolescents have their rights, choices and bodies completely their own. ”
See the full report here: http://unfpa.org/AgainstMyWill [ child marriage Nepal ]