In April it will be the second anniversary of the Nepal earthquake.
2015 was an eventful year for Radhika. Over the course of a few months, she met her boyfriend, married him and became pregnant. She also stopped attending school when the earthquake badly damaged it, putting a stop to her studies.
Marriage came suddenly in Radhika’s life. Shortly after she’d met her boyfriend and they’d started dating, his parents visited her family home to ask for her hand in marriage.
“My family felt this was a positive proposal from a nice boy and married me off.”
By that point, the local school had re-opened and Radhika hoped to resume her studies. But her parents decided it was best if she didn’t return. After all, she was getting married.
Radhika now had to worry about married life and manage her in-laws’ expectations.
“My mother-in-law kept asking me whether I was pregnant,” she explains. “People say a mother-in-law dreams of playing with her grandchildren after the marriage of her son.”
Radhika was advised by her in-laws not to use contraception.
“My husband had asked me if we should use condoms. I said no as people were saying we shouldn’t. And so I became pregnant.”
When Girls Not Brides met Radhika she told us about having to abandon her dreams of studying and becoming a nurse.
“If I hadn’t got married, maybe I would have become a nurse. But since I got married and left school, I couldn’t follow my dream.”
But thanks to Child Welfare Society, a child’s rights organisation in Nepal and Girls Not Brides member, Radhika has a life beyond marriage and motherhood. Through them she is undertaking vocational training and learning about sexual and reproductive health.
As the second anniversary of the earthquake approaches we are reminded of girls like Radhika whose lives are often changed for ever by humanitarian disasters. In times of crisis, child marriage rates rise due to both financial and social insecurity.
We must do everything we can to make sure child brides are not left behind in humanitarian efforts. Supporting child brides like Radhika is not only crucial to their own recovery, but that of their whole country.
For more information about the rights of women and girls in post-earthquake Nepal see this case study from Girls Not Brides member Aura Freedom International.
In the time it has taken to read this article 24 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
That is 23 girls every minute
Nearly 1 every 3 seconds