The cultural tradition of kidnapping women and girls for marriage persists among indigenous groups in western Nepal. The husband of one bridenapping victim told Women’s eNews:
Even if men and women like each other, there’s this tradition of ‘stealing’ the girl and eloping. When you steal a girl, it is more reputed. But sometimes, when the girl isn’t ready, there could be a big fight between the two families.
Plan UK reports that Nepal has one of the highest rates of forced and early marriage worldwide, with an average age under 18 at the time of first marriage. Although bridenapping is a criminal offense in Nepal, the harmful cultural practice continues. According to Chairman of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, Rajkumar Lekhi, “There isn’t an age limit for marriage in this community. It depends on the family environment and the situation then and there. They also marry within their same community, even with first cousins.”
READ MORE: Group in Nepal Takes Pride in Kidnapping Brides, By Lochana Sharma, Women’s eNews (January 10, 2012).