Sabita’s Choice: A child bride who didn’t know about her other options

Sabita (22) married at age 14 with Ram Bahadur, who was 18 years old at the time. Due to  poor economic conditions and  physical disabilities of Sabita’s parents, she did not get a chance to study. As a result she got married at such a young age. Now Sabita and Ram have three daughters aged 2, 3 and 5. They live in a small hut with Rams family, which comprises of 8 members (father in law, mother in law, brother in law, her three daughters, husband and herself), in a village in Nepal.

Seven years ago, Sabita and Ram, worked in the same hotel. Slowly they got to know each other and fell in love. One day they eloped and got married without informing their parents. Both their parents did not have any reaction towards their decision.

Sabita: “We were totally unaware about child marriage and its consequences. None of our family members ever told about its demerits.”

Sabita’s husband now works as a laborer. He spends much of his earnings on alcohol, and they face difficulty in fulfilling their basic needs. Due to their poor financial condition they are facing difficulties in managing their daily basic requirements; they have limited access to nutritious food, education and health services. Their children attend school irregularly, as they do not have a uniform and other educational materials.

Local HER CHOICE partner CWINs staff heard about this case and paid a home visit to Ram and Sabita. Soon, CWIN returned to their place with emergency support for the children. CWIN provided them with food and clothes and uniforms, school bags, copies, pencils as education support. At the same time the family received legal counseling from CWIN for the process of birth and marriage registration. CWIN staff talked with the family members and motivated Sabita to participate in HER CHOICE training related to life skills and SRHR. They were encouraged to send their children to school and make sure that they would not let their children marry at early age.

According to the Principal of Buddha Higher Secondary School, the children are now regularly attend school. Likewise, Nabaraj Chaulagain chairperson of Village Child Protection Committee (VCPC) said the life of Sabita and her husband has changed due to the support from CWIN. VCPC, in coordination with other stakeholders, are now actively raising awareness about the risks of early marriage.

Sabita: “Thanks to HER CHOICE and CWIN, I am now aware about adolescent rights, adolescent education, child marriage, abortion, changes in adolescent period, abuse trafficking. I also get a lot of support from my peer group. I promise that I will protect my children from all the risks they face and make sure they finish school. I advise others not to get married at an early age. I also pledge that I won’t let my children get married at an early age.”