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TAULIHAWA: A friendly cricket tournament among adolescent girls, organized to raise awareness and galvanize action to end child marriage and violence against women and girls, started in Taulihawa of Kapilvastu district today.

The sports event with the theme, “bowling out child marriage and violence against women”, is organized by the Cricket Association of Kapilvastu (CAK) in partnership with the District Coordination Committee, the Women and Children Office, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Family Planning Association of Nepal.

Chief Guest and Coordinator of District Coordination Committee Narayan Prasad Khanal hit a ball delivered by national cricket player Sabitra GC to inaugurate the tournament amid the presence of newly elected people’s representatives, government officials, sportspersons, young people, members of civil society and representatives of development partners.

A total of 56 girls from 10 villages that have high prevalence of child marriage in Kapilvastu are taking part in the tournament. They are divided into four groups. Finals will be played on Thursday (October 26) between the two winners of the semi-finals.

“For the first time we’ve partnered with UNFPA for such a key event in our collective effort to encourage all stakeholders, including adolescent girls, to continue their fight against child marriage and violence against women and girls through several mediums, including cricket,” said Prakash Gaire, Chairperson of CAK.

The first and second will receive medals and certificates. The third and fourth teams will receive consolation prizes. Around 1,500 people are expected to watch the finals of the tournament live at the Taulihawa-based stadium.

Girls in Kapilvastu face entrenched gender discrimination, high rates of adolescent pregnancy and harmful practices such as child marriage. According to the Census 2011, 62percent of girls aged 10 to 19 get married in the district. The national average is 41 percent. A violation of human rights, child marriage robs adolescent girls of their childhood. Those who are married off early are likely to be forced to drop out of schools, bear children before they are ready and are often subjected to violence and abuse. Programmes that engage the community and opinion leaders and empower young girls to realize their full potential have contributed to changing cultural norms and addressing harmful practices.

For more information: Prakash Gaire, Chairperson, Cricket Association of Kapilvastu, 9847212155