From The Nepali Press
Dinesh Gaule, Himalaya Times, 11 March
FROM ISSUE #136 (14 MARCH 2003 - 20 MARCH 2003) | TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Kasai Gau in Ramechhap stands as a challenge for the Ministry of Health, which has been trying to raise the age for marriage among girls. According to VDC documents almost 95 percent of the girls are married off by their parents before they turn 14. According to Bhim Bahadur Kasai, parents arrange early marriages for their girls because they believe that they will gain karmic merit if a girl is offered in a marriage before she gets her first periods. Kasai's neighbours say there is little benefit in educating daughters, and so they choose to relieve themselves from familial responsibility towards daughters who are often viewed as a burden. In Kasai Gau even the boys marry early-by 16 most of them have tied the knot. Seventy-year-old Kali Maya says a lot has changed since her time when she became a bride at seven years of age. Kasai Gau is close to district headquarters and the nearest school is a 15-minute walk. None of the girls have ever been enrolled. "The development slogans haveno effect on these villagers," says Sudarshan Raya, a local. The eldest daughter of Man Maya nearly died in childbirth last year at age 14. This year, her younger sister, only 13, will be married. Their mother, Man Maya, says she cannot defy tradition.