Thirteen-year-old Pratima from Rukum District faced a lot of hurdles after her mother passed away. Being the eldest, she had to take care of her two younger sisters aged three and five. Her father is working overseas for three years to support the family. Caught up with household responsibilities, she had to make sacrifices and with no time for school, she dropped out in Grade 7.
With sadness, she shared, “Who else will manage the household work if I am away at school?” A year ago, a married man from the same village - a distant relative aged 27, with a daughter - came to Pratima's house and took her far from the village pretending there was some work. On the way, he forced her to go away with him to get married. Afraid, Pratima shouted for help. Somehow, she managed to run away and hide in the village and shared the incident with the villagers the next day.
She was so petrified by the event that she hid in her house for a few days. She was mentally disturbed and worried that he might try to force her to get married again. After learning about this incident, UMN’s ABLE Project social mobiliser visited her. She counselled Pratima about the government policies regarding child marriage and child rights.
For her security, she counselled Pratima to report a case against that marriage attempt in the ward office and police station. Pratima decided to fight and speak out for justice immediately and registered her application in the ward office. That case was the first-ever case registered in that area against child marriage. The ward office and the police imposed a fine of NPR 10,000 (approx. USD 83) on the man as compensation for Pratima with a warning to not bother her again.
Although the money provided was not a lot, the important thing was that Pratima got her courage back to live her life normally as before. After everything was sorted out, she thanked the social mobiliser. “I am so happy that there is someone in this village who cares about and works on such issues, thank you for helping me fight back for justice. I will continue my studies if the situation goes well in the future,” she shared with hope on her face. Pratima, now 14, is still unable to go to school as she has to look after her younger sisters.