50-year-old landlord ‘weds’ six-yr-old by force in Nepal

April 15th, 2009 - 2:50 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, April 15 (IANS) A 50-year-old rich and influential Nepali villager forced a poor family to give their six-year-old daughter in wedding to him, allegedly with the intention of eventually selling her off, the girl’s brother told police.

The `wedding’ took place in March in Sudama village in Sarlahi district in Nepal’s Terai plains where women are confined to their homes and dowry deaths are on the rise despite the ruling Maoist government’s recent ban on it.

However, the matter came to light only recently after the young girl’s elder brother, who lives in capital city Kathmandu, came to know about it and filed a complaint with police, Nepal’s official media said.

Police said they have begun a manhunt for Shyam Singh, the rich landlord, as well as Uday Singh, the father of the young girl.

Both were said to have fled to India across the open border as soon as the news of the wedding came to be known and public outrage grew.

Villagers told the state-run Gorkhapatra daily that Shyam Singh had taken advantage of the family’s poverty and forced them to give her to him in marriage with the intention of selling her.

However, his alleged plan was foiled by the girl’s elder brother Dinesh Singh who complained to police.

Though in 1971 the government fixed the legal age of marriage for girls at 16 years, it is often flouted, especially in the Terai, where child marriages are extremely common.

Often, the `grooms’ use the `weddings’ as a facade for trafficking, selling the girls to brothels in India.

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