When a child club in Kalikot heard about 14-year-old Kalpana being lured into getting married, they informed the police. They also informed religious leaders who sought help of the police when attempts to stop the wedding failed. They held a community meeting with local political leaders, religious leaders and guardians to discuss the adverse consequences of early marriage on children and the country’s law against child marriage. The discussion led to parents from the both side cancelling the wedding. Kalpana went back to school.
Save the Children’s child protection program aims to prevent and respond to abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence affecting children. Children have a right to feel safe regardless of their situation. Yet girls and boys in every country, in every culture and at every social level face forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence. Nepal is by no means an exception. These violations include sexual exploitation and abuse, trafficking, harmful child labor, harmful traditional practices such as early marriage and chhaupadi, recruitment into armed forces and groups, physical and humiliating punishment and treatment, to name just a few. Protecting children is a universal obligation. While the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and other human rights instruments and national laws create legal obligations for the government to protect children, all adults share a responsibility to do so.
Our child protection seeks to address the issues of harmful traditional practices (chhaupadi and child marriage), children without appropriate care, child trafficking, harmful child labour, and violence against children in armed conflict. Building and strengthening both local as well as national child protection systems has been a focus of the child protection work. While it is important to bring about legal and policy reform to establish the required child protection framework, building local capacity to undertake both prevention and response services for child protection is a key to ensure that each and every child in the community is protected. Save the Children’s engagement at the local level for child protection, for example through setting up and strengthening Village Child Protection Committees, has remained remarkable. Save the Children also collaborates with the Central and District Child Welfare Boards, the Women and Children Service Centres (of Nepal Police) to strengthen their capacity on child protection. More importantly, Save the Children empowers children themselves to ensure their own protection.