Her father is a daily wage labourer, often working in and around his village at construction sites or doing menial chores for his neighbours earning no more than NRs 2000 (USD $20) a month. This amount is hardly enough to feed his family two meals a day of rice and lentils. These meals, void of nutrition, are the only expected and regular source of food in remote villages such as this. Nutritious food like green leafy vegetables, beans, eggs, milk, and meat products come at a cost that is too high for their family.
In rural areas of Nepal like in Sabita’s village, the well being of girls is largely overlooked. Poverty and patriarchal mindsets mean that the girl child is seen as a burden to the economy of the household and, as a result, malnutrition is more prevalent in girls than boys. Comparatively, Sabita’s eight-month-old brother is healthier than the daughters of the family. Her sister Sita can only crawl on her limbs, as they are too weak from her life of undernutrition. She cannot stand, she does not interact or play with children her age, and she may not live to see her fifth birthday.
Treatment for her daughters is a thought as a luxury mother Bindrawati, age 28, can't afford. In remote villages where male children are preferred, the indifference to care for the needs of the girl child is ignored. With limited resources in the house, there is no urgency in treating her malnourished daughters. Without the ability to read Bindrawati is also without the knowledge that malnutrition is one of the causes of under-five deaths in Nepal and that breastfeeding her daughters would help keep them healthy.
These factors of poverty and the chores of every day life don’t allow the health and wellbeing of Sabita and her sister to be a priority in their household. At age five Sabita is left alone at home to care for her younger siblings while her mother is working. She cannot go to school because of this. Child marriage and labour and trafficking all also run rampant in Nepal. Girls suffer quietly as a result of much indifference in the country – malnutrition as a first sign of consequence.