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Child marriage highly prevalent in Nepal

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KATHMANDU — Child marriage is still very common in Nepal, a new report released here Monday said which also blamed deeply engrained religious-cultural beliefs, dowry and poverty for such practices.

Bangladesh tops the list of South Asian nations followed by India and Nepal. Nepal was ranked third (41 percent) while India was placed second (47 per cent).

Child marriage rate was highest in Bangladesh as 65 per cent girls were married by the age of 18, said the report titled ‘Tipping Point Community Participatory Analysis Study’ conducted by Care Nepal in Nepal and Bangladesh.

29 per cent of girls were married before they reached the age of 15 in Bangladesh, according to the report.

It said child marriage was highly prevalent in Nepal’s Terai region bordering India and in the far and mid-western part of the country.

Deeply-entrenched cultural and religious beliefs, worries about family reputation, dowry, poverty, and a perceived need to protect the girls from harm, were some of the factors blamed for child marriage in the country, the report said.

The practice of child marriage is mainly attributed in Nepal to gender-inequality, economic constraints, lack of education, poverty and strict religious, traditional and social norms and discriminatory social hierarchies like caste.

It said South Asia has lower rates of child marriage than Sub-Saharan Africa. But due to the large number of population, the greatest numbers of girls marry at an early age.

“The research found that the complex marriage process systematically excludes the voice of girls. When adolescents, especially girls, try to assert their choices around if, whom, and when to marry, they are often stigmatised by their family and communities and seen as standing against the authority of fathers and brothers,” the report said.

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The study said any change to end the practice can be achieved by empowering girls, providing quality education, engaging men and boys, mobilising families and communities, providing and strengthening services, and implementing laws and policies.

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Devotees throng Pashupatinath on Maha Shivaratri

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KATHMANDU — Devotees from various places of the country and neighboring India have thronged Pathupatinath Temple since early Tuesday morning to offer prayers on Maha Shivaratri.

All four doors of the temple were open at 3:15 for the devotees to pay homage to Lord Shiva, said director of the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) Bhola Sitaula.

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Arrangements have been made for the devotees to enter the main temple from three doors (a door in the south of Pingalasthan, another in the west of Jayabageshwori-Bhuvaneshwori, and the third from Mitrapark-Umakunda-Basuki), he said.

The devotees are supposed to exit from the same door they have entered, said another PADT official. Approximately 1.3 million devotees are estimated on the festival this year, he said.

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