By Lochana Sharma
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Among an indigenous group in Nepal's western region, the human rights violation of kidnapping women and girls for marriage is still a matter of masculine pride. Stealing a bride is more honorable than eloping, one husband says.
Syangbo says the tradition has been declining, but that many men and village leaders still participate in it. She says she is actively working to spread awareness about the negative aspects of this tradition.
"So many people from around the globe come here to see our place," Syangbo says of the tourism-rich region. "But we have traditions like these. So we are requesting and telling people not to kidnap women who they like and marry against their will."
She says that she's raised the matter in parliament, but so far to no avail. Syanbo has also been speaking against the practice throughout the area. Although many men she has spoken with promised not to steal women and marry them against their will, they refused to sign any documents confirming this pledge.
Phurba Tamang, 22, says stealing women is the only way for men who aren't rich to get married.
"It's only the rich men who get to marry the girl they like," he says. "No one wants to marry us. All the girls want to get married to the rich men. We also have to get married."
Syangbo is unsympathetic. Forced marriage is a violation of human rights, she says.
"This has to end," she says.
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Lochana Sharma reports for Global Press Institute's Nepal News Desk. She aims to use journalism as a tool to promote human rights and social transformation.
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