Nepal widows protest against incentive for marriage

Mon Aug 10, 2009 8:36am EDT
 
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KATHMANDU (Reuters) - About 200 women marched through the Nepali capital Monday to denounce a government scheme to pay cash incentives to men for marrying widows, witnesses said.

Nepal's center-left coalition announced a plan last month to pay men the equivalent of $650 for marrying widows, angering the widows.

Monday, women shouting slogans such as "You can't sell your mother," and "We don't want government dowries," marched toward a government complex that houses the prime minister's office.

They were stopped by riot police, but there were no arrests or violence.

Durga Neupane, an organizer and a widow, said activists would mobilize widows throughout the Himalayan nation if the government failed to scrap the decision by Friday.

"If that is not done we'll gather widows from across the country and organize more protests," she said.

The government says the scheme seeks to help widows who face social and cultural barriers in a majority-Hindu society.

But Neupane said it would only add to their woes as men would marry widows for money and later abandon them. Widows, she said, should instead be given jobs, better health care and education.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Bappa Majumdar and Ron Popeski)