Your twelve-year-old niece is getting married soon? In the Netherlands, that would be impossible but in Nepal it is an everyday occurrence. Around sixty percent of Nepali girls are married off in an arranged marriage before they are 18. Mitini, a radio soap produced by Community Radio Support Centre, is helping to change this.

In Nepal girls are often seen as an asset that can be traded. Despite the fact that it is against the law, more than half of the Nepali girls are married off whilst very young in an arranged marriage. This has a huge effect on their future. These girls are often faced with sexual abuse and health problems through becoming pregnant at a very young age. Often girls are not allowed to attend school, which stands in the way of their personal development and their chances on the job market.

Six million youngsters

Free Press Unlimited’s partner in Nepal, NEFEJ/CRSC, is responsible for the production of Mitini and it is the umbrella organisation for more than a hundred community radio broadcasters spread throughout Nepal. In this way, the soap reaches six million young people and fifteen million adults, including the people living in the far reaches of the country where communication is more difficult. It is in these areas where there is still a big difference between the position of boys and girls.

Mitini is a traditional way of describing the close friendship that girls have in Nepal. The soap follows the life of a Nepali girl called Sabita and gives an insight into her daily problems and what she can do to solve them. The topics that are covered include getting married young, the advantages of education and discussions between young people and their parents or in-laws. The soap not only gives young people information, it also provides their parents with good ways of how to approach sensitive issues, such as gender inequality and sexual health. This gives them a helping hand when starting a conversation and with improving not only their own situation but also the situation surrounding girls’ rights.

This is a collaborative project between Free Press Unlimited, dance4life and Child Helpline International and is sponsored by the Dutch National Postcode Lottery.