At a time when child marriage is taking place alarmingly high, Nepalese religious leaders representing various faiths expressed their commitments to work jointly in society to eradicate child marriage. In a round table discussion on religion and child marriage, four religious leaders representing Hindu, Buddhists, Muslims and Christian denounced the child marriage and expressed their support to make Nepal child marriage free country.
Organized by UNCIEF, UNFPA in collaboration with National Interreligious Network, the roundtable discussions was moderated by Rupa Dixit from UNICEF. Participated by children from various parts of Nepal and religious leaders of various faith replied the queries of the children.
“There are 27 child marriages happening in the world, every minute. In Nepal, 11 percent of the population below 14 and 29 percent of girls aged 15-19 are married. 7 percent of boys are married before they turn 18,” said Hanaa Singer, representative, UNICEF-Nepal. “This goes against all the conventions of human rights and international treaties which directly or indirectly forbid the degrading and mistreatment of girls inherent in child marriage.”
“ I firmly believe that religious leaders like you all shape social values and promote responsible behaviors that respect the dignity and sanctity of all life,” said Singer.
Deputy representative of UNFPA Catherine Breen Kamkong stressed the need to wipe out child marriage which is creating a lot of problems in reproductive health process. “Religion can play important role in sexual and reproductive health,” said Catherine.
Taking part in the debate Ram Chandra Bhandari religious leader of Hindu faith said there is no room for child marriage in Hindu philosophy. Similarly, leader of Christian religious faith Dr. K.B. Rokaya said there is complete restriction of child marriage in Christianity.
Nasrul Hussain leader representing Muslim religious faith said Koran forbid any relations between two without proper age. Bikhu Dharmamurti said Buddhism permits the marriage between two physically and mentally grown adults.
Delivering the statement, Norwegian ambassador to Nepal Alf Arne Ramslien said the commitments expressed by leaders of different religious faith is a matter of great importance to eradicate the child marriage.