|Global human rights organisation launched its latest campaign ‘Nation Against Early Marriage’, which seeks to inform, influence and initiate changes in how early marriages are perceived and accepted as a traditional norm.
The organisation surveyed 3,560 households in the districts of Ranchi and Hazaribagh (Jharkhand) and Gaya (Bihar). Anusha Ramachandran from Praxis, a research organisation stated Health of child brides are compromised due to early and frequent exposure to sexual relations, pregnancies and child birth. Early marriage also affects the education of girls, their status and mobility. At present, the campaign is being implemented in two districts in Jharkhand and one in Bihar. Findings of the survey peg the rate of early marriage in rural Bihar at 69.6 per cent and in Jharkhand as 58.1 per cent.
A lot of reasons like the practice of child marriage, tradition, absence of a supportive environment, lack of education, lack of information, lack of livelihood, poverty and unequal gender norms as causes of this practice Absence of proper educational facilities, fear of ‘evil eye’, poverty, constant insecurity about the girl child’s safety and family honor and viewing them as a burden all add on to the belief of child marriage in our country. As per survey about 50 per cent women in the sample got married between 13 and 18.
Child marriage is one issue that laws alone will not help because it impacts other development indicators, too. Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 is there with a regulatory framework in place, but we need to look at institutional mechanisms, Child Marriage Prohibition Officers need to enforce these laws.
The programme consists of mass media intervention, training at block levels with NGOs, CBOs, self-help groups and youth groups, and community mobilisations. The team engages students at the middle school and high school level with folk theatre, leadership training, mobile shows and video vans.
This campaign needs to take up this issue with men fathers and to-be-husbands, parents the community at large and youth leaders for successfully challenge to this practice.”