Suna’s mother Rauthi married her to a neighbour’s son because the family’s harvest failed after a long drought. She has seven children, all of whom have dropped out of school either to work in India, or to get married and raise their own children. The husbands of both Suna and Subi are also away in India, working to augment family income.
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Most families here have at least one member working in India, and the income they send home was what helped them survive when crops failed. But many Nepalis lost their jobs during the pandemic, so even this fallback option was not there for the past two years.
“Life here is tough, and getting tougher. Early marriage is the norm, since it is easier to get our daughters married, so we do not have to feed them,” says Rauthi, two of whose seven children are handicapped and cannot go to school, or work.