Although child marriage in Nepal is illegal, this social scourge is still in practice among poor and less educated people living in rural areas. The country holds the third highest child marriage prevalence in South Asia. An estimated 40 per cent girls aged between 20 and 24 years in the country are believed to have tied their nuptial knot before they turned 18. After the marriage, the young girls usually drop out of school and become mothers. This tendency puts the health of such young mothers and their babies in peril as the former’s reproductive organs are not fully developed. Since these girls can hardly give continuity to their education, they are less likely to have a job. Thus, child marriage keeps them and their families in a cycle of poverty. They are also more likely to be victims of domestic violence.
Against this backdrop, an exemplary initiative has been taken by two local units of Rupandehi district to control the prevalence of child marriage and sex-selective abortion. Rupadehi is one of the 15 districts of the country with high prevalence of child marriage. As per a news report published in this daily recently, Omsatiya Gaidahawa Rural Municipality of Rupandehi district has introduced the girl child insurance scheme. The innovative insurance plan has proved to be instrumental in containing child marriage and bringing about positive changes in the local communities. The scheme has been gaining ground in the southern belt of the district. With the implementation of the scheme, several locals have decided to arrange their daughters’ marriages after the girls turn 20. Under this plan, the local government deposits Rs. 20,000 each in the local girls’ accounts. The local units have made it mandatory for the beneficiaries to get the birth of their daughters registered to take part in this scheme. The local unit had allocated Rs. 3 million for the programme in the fiscal year 2074/75 BS. Of the total amount, it utilised Rs. 2.7 million. The amount is deposited at Small Farmer’s Bank by opening individual accounts of girls. The useful scheme, however, is applicable for only three girls of a family.
But, the local unit failed to implement the scheme in an effective manner in the current fiscal year owing to various reasons, including the delay in the integration of civil servants. However, it has allocated the same amount of budget for the scheme. It has launched the girl child insurance scheme amounting Rs. 30,000 for up to 20 years of age. It contributes Rs. 20,000 each insured girl’s accounts while parents or guardians will have to add Rs. 10,000. After 20 years, Rs. 417,000 will be accumulated in each of the accounts. The local unit will hand over the amount to parents for their daughters’ marriage. If the parents fail to deposit Rs. 10,000 in the account, they will get only Rs. 300,000. They, however, will not receive the insured amount if their daughters get married before they turn 20. The Lumbini Sanskritik Gaunpalika has also enforced the scheme from the current fiscal year. It has allocated Rs. 10 million for this. The scheme is worth emulating even for other local units.