There are an estimated 171,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Nepal (GSI 2018). Children are often subjected to forced marriage with 37% of Nepalese girls being married before the age of 18. The 2015 earthquakes devastated the country and left girls and women in an increasingly vulnerable position, leading to fears of increased child marriage rates. Poverty is both a cause and consequence of child marriage in Nepal, along with food insecurity. Moreover the dowry is practiced in many communities, leading parents to marry off their daughters at a younger age to avoid a higher price.
Radhika was 17 years old when she met and started dating her boyfriend. Their parents quickly arranged a marriage and Radhika was forced to leave school and abandon her dream of becoming a nurse.
When my mother-in-law talked about having children I felt I was too young to have a baby. People say a mother-in-law dreams of playing with her grandchildren after the marriage of her son.
I’m 17 years old. I got married this year. I’ve been pregnant now for six months.
I had been in Kathmandu and then came back to Palung. We met when I came back. We started seeing each other. Then they came to my house to talk with my parents and I got married.
There wasn’t much pressure. After my in-laws came to ask for my hand in marriage, my family felt this was a positive proposal from a nice boy and married me off.
The earthquake struck on 25 April, 2015. Our school was shut. I said I would go back to school after I reopened, but my family asked me not to go as my marriage had been arranged.
I felt really sad when I had to leave school.
After only a few months of being married, my mother-in-law kept asking whether I was pregnant. I used to get stomach pains during my period. My mother-in-law told me that women with painful periods have problems having children.
My husband had asked me if we should use condoms. I said no as people were saying we shouldn’t. and so I became pregnant. I had dreamed of continuing my studies and becoming a nurse.
If I hadn’t got married maybe I would have become a nurse. But since I got married and left school, I couldn’t follow my dream.
Narrative produced and provided by Girls Not Brides