Child Marriage – Many Nepali girls are victims of child marriages, some as early as 8 years old, because they are considered a financial burden to the family. They are pulled out of school, and expected to fill the role of housewife and mother from a young age. Usually mothers are unable to offer their daughters a future different to their own.
Arranged marriage – Nearly all marriages in Nepal are still arranged marriages meaning that the woman has no right to choose her life partner. The life partner chosen for the girl can be highly dependent on the dowry her parents can afford to pay for her.
Dowry – is known as ‘Daijo’ in Nepali. This is the old practice of giving money or property at the marriage of a daughter by the father to the bridegroom’s family. Generally dowry includes cash payment, jewels of diamond, gold or silver, land, electrical appliances, furniture items, bedding, utensils and other household products which help the newly married couple set up or upgrade the in-law’s house. It is a common practice in the Terai region, of Southern Nepal. However now it is spreading throughout other parts of the country, instead of diminishing.
The dowry system has had a severely negative impact on Nepal’s society. Many daughters-in-law and wives are physically and mentally tortured due to insufficient dowry. There are several cases where the family resorts to killing the wife, so the groom is free to remarry for a better dowry. Once married, women customarily move to their husband’s family home. Within her in-laws family, she must do housework, care for members of the family and spend long hours working in the fields. Most women give birth to children immediately so their workload is ever increasing.
Widows – If her husband dies, the Nepali widow often faces being ostracised by her husband’s family and her village. In-laws often want to rid themselves of their deceased son’s wife. IF she is allowed to stay in their house, they give her decreasing amounts of food and she is made miserable until she leaves. Many times she is not welcome back to her family home. Most women see re-marriage as their only way to escape.
Divorce – Only recently the law changed in Nepal where a woman can file for a divorce from her husband. Even though it is now legally possible to keep some property and not lose all custody over her children, the process is lengthy and expensive. Most women are not even aware of this right, but in most cases the Males in charge of the system do not progress the rights. Worse still is the overwhelming negative social stigma attached to divorced women. Many women would rather endure years of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, rather than risk being caste out of their village because they divorce their husband.
“Such incidents cannot be checked until and unless the dowry system stops completely,” said rights activist Bidur Ghimire. He added that marriages without dowry must be encouraged. Another rights activist Bipin Gautam said that the culture of impunity is encouraging the trend. “Controlling such incidents are tough unless stern action is taken against perpetrators,” he said. Dowry deaths on the rise in Nepal -The Kathmandu Post/Fri, Jun 17
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