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An underage bride’s story of tragedy and trauma



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By Sher Bahadur Sarki
Bajura, July 25: Jayashwari Thapa, a resident from Ward No. 4 of Budhiganga Municipality, got married when she was 13-year-old to 15-year-old Dammar Dhami of Ward No. 4 in Chaurpati Rural Municipality.
Jayashwari is now 23-years old but alone. She got married following the tradition of child marriage in her village. Most of Jayashwari’s friends were leaving the school for the purpose and the same happened to her.
She was studying at Grade VII in Thuma Secondary School when she left her education and tied the nuptial knot with Dhami. But her marriage didn’t last long.
Dhami left for India the day after the marriage in search of work as their economic condition was poor. Two years later, Jayashwari received the message of her husband’s death in India.
It was since then that Jayashwari’s world got shattered and her situation started turning worse.
Not knowing the struggles and hardships of child marriage, Jayashwari had selected the path. But now, around eight years later of the tragic incident, she can neither talk nor walk.
Jayashwari had been living with her mother and father as they brought her back after the incident.
“Our economic condition was also poor due to which Jayashwari helped her at home and also did her study. But she later fell under the peer pressure as many of her friends opted for early marriage,” said Hima Thapa, mother of Jayashwari.
As per her parents, Jayashwari is suffering from depression as well.
“Jayashwari doesn’t even know when her body needs to defecate. She is totally depressed and her situation is turning worse. When I remember how she was before marriage, my world falls apart. I can’t even think how much pain she is in,” said Hima.
Gomati Katuwal, a health worker associated with Good Neighbours Nepal, a non-government organisation, also informed that Jayashwari’s condition was critical.
“Jayashwari suffered from depression since her husband died. But her situation turned worse as she couldn’t receive any medical attention or counselling during the early days,” said Katuwal.
The parents of Jayashwari have also been appealing for help from the people to assist them in their daughter’s treatment.
In many places of Bajura, child marriage is still prevalent and the story of Jayashwari is only one victim of the social ill.
“Cultural practices, social norms and economic condition have been the major reasons behind the continuation of the illegal and unethical practice of child marriage. Child marriage still takes place in all the nine local levels of Bajura,” said Sabin Thapa, a child rights activist.
Activists also stressed that the people in Bajura still believe that drinking water from their daughters’ feet, a tradition during the marriage, before puberty would help them earn virtue and secure them a seat in the heaven.
Nevertheless, in recent years, activists argue that it is the lack of education and awareness that has helped the tradition of child marriage to continue.
“The lack of education is due to the poor economic condition of people. Children leave the school and get married as their economic situation does not allow them to pursue higher education,” said Karmi Rawat, an activist.