On a freezing night three years ago, 13-year-old Susmita Kami sneaked out of her husband’s house and didn’t stop running until she reached her parents’ doorstep in Nepal’s remote northwest.
Her escape from a forced marriage — a tradition many teenage girls from the Himalayan nation’s Dalit community are expected to uphold — was soon under threat. But Susmita’s parents resisted demands from her in-laws to send her back, deciding to stand by their pleading daughter who desperately wanted a better life.
“I told them I never wanted to get married and I wasn’t going back. I ran away because I wanted to stay in school,” Susmita, now 16, told AFP. Although Nepal banned child marriage in 1963, four out of ten girls are married before they turn 18, according to UNICEF.
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