An initiative to mitigate Early/Child Marriage
The national data according to the NHFS-IV though shows a decline in child marriage and an increase in the median age of marriage, still the child / early marriages are present in the specific communities for reasons of social, economical and patriarchal reasons. Early marriage leads to so many hardships in young couple’s life, many a times it shatters their life in such a manner that it becomes difficult to recover again.
One of the major reasons for early marriage, in addition to poverty, is the linkage of family’s honour (especially father’s) with girl’s choices relating to her sexuality. The concern about loss of honour hanging high on the head of the father forces the decision to marry her early rather than waiting for her to get adequately educated or even clear the legal age of marriage. Parents while understanding the ill effects of the Early / child marriage, conveniently ignore the well being of their girl daughter who suffers in the times to come on account of her shattered dreams, health of self and siblings and lack of ability to contribute towards family income. This actually starts another cycle of poverty.
There are adverse effects on boys also who in most of the cases find it difficult to earn a respectable living which results in frustration in the married life including violence as manifestation of his inability to meet needs of family.
We took cognizance of this issue as early as in 1998 and decided to include as one of our major thrust area. The situation then was very bad and It is a matter of great satisfaction that the situation has considerably improved as reported by agencies as a result of path breaking work done by various agencies working in this stream.
As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2015-16, Rajasthan’s 10 districts came in top 100 districts in the country with high prevalence of Child Marriage. Rajsamand ranks 3rd in the list with 26% marriages as early marriages.
About 21 percent of India’s populations are between the ages of 10 and 19 years, of whom 47 percent are female. A significant percentage of girls in this age group is either already married or will marry before they attain the legal age of marriage.
Overall, nearly 58 percent of currently married women aged 20-24 in the state married before the age of 18, about 22 percent married before 15 years and 36 percent married between the ages of 15 and 17 years. Rajasthan ranks number one in the country with the highest prevalence of child marriage
Since 2014 in collaboration with American Jewish world Association, RJVS is implementing a Project called Jagrati with the adolescent girls, boys and young married women, towards mitigation of Early and child marriages in Rajsamand district. Till date we have worked with almost 90 villages (2700 girls and 400 boys directly) and about 7200 community members of the district where in we have initiated to empower adolescent girls and boys by creating awareness through various programs, capacity building and training to empower them, increase their decision making capacity and bring awareness about education and health, so that they can live life with their own decisions and consent.
- Empower adolescent girls (develop decision-making capacity)
- Prevent child marriage
- Improve the health of the younger generation and the offspring
- Encourage adolescent Girls and Boys to live a quality life through education by
- helping to link to regular or open education
- Spread awareness about social evils
- To empower the adolescents through various skill training
- Village level adolescent girls and boys group formation
- Career guidance workshop with college and school students
- Develop trust in family, Meeting with Caste leaders, Sarpanches, teachers for preventing child Marriage.
- Trainings on Gender, Sexuality, Capacity building ,leadership and self defense to adolescent girls and boys
- Yuva Mahotsava – an annual program to share the report card for last year & show case the talents of adolescent girls of our groups
- Workshop with young brides in villages on “women health”.
- Celebration of National Girl child day by conducting various programs
- Campaign on prevention of child marriage
- Organizing Health Camps in villages
Good and continuing education is key to mitigating early marriages. The drop – out rates steadily increases for boys and girls as below across higher grades and recedes drastically at higher secondary levels. Therefore education is a focus as well as thrust area too.
- Spread awareness amongst 72000 people through different training programs, campaigns, rallies, meetings
- Helped 370 students to enroll back for regular mode of education
- 1690 dropouts linked to open school education form
- 3100 adolescent girls and boys pledged that they will not undergo child marriage and not let others to do also in their villages
- 303 Child Marriages stopped by Caste leaders and Pandits.
- 800 parents pledged that they will not marry their child early and give them education to the extent desired by them.
- 1083 people benefitted by linking them to Government welfare schemes
- Girls and boys sensitized on Child marriage, violence against women, education and cleanliness. They were also advised to participate in village developmental activities.
- More than 90 girls and boys leadership honed.
| Success stories |
The story of an ordinary village girl to be a Garima Award winner…
Maya was awarded with “Garima award” by Rajasthan government for her courage to stop her own child marriage. This journey of her was not easy, she had survived violence by her father and step mother. Her parents were separated and both went for another marriage. Maya used to live with her grandfather till she was studying in 5th standard. Later her father brought her to his home where her step mother was not treating her well. For, Maya her childhood was traumatic, in the age when other children were pampered by their parents, she had to go through abuse and violence. Her grandfather fought for her, took legal action against her father and brought her back to his own house.
Maya started living with her grandparents who were bearing her expenses. In such a young age when parents get separated, the child has to go through hardships. Maya had to live life as per her grandparents wish. There was control on her mobility and her grandparents wanted to marry her off when she was just 14 years of age. But, she was not ready for this marriage. She felt like a burden to her grandfather. She had no support system, her parents were also not in support of her. The groom’s family were putting too much pressure on her to get married.
Maya did not want to get married at such young age. She wanted to study further, but she had nobody other than her grandfather who could have taken responsibility. Maya was determined to escape the marriage and seeking all the possibilities. She met the field worker of RJVS who were doing Kishori meeting in her village. She learned about the law against child marriage. This encounter had given her courage, she talked to her grandfather and asked him to visit court before he fix the marriage date. She met an advocate and enquired about the laws related to child marriage, she let her grandfather listened their conversation. Her grandfather understood her motive and stopped her child marriage.
Maya did not stop here, she negotiated with her grandfather for her further studies. It was not easy for her to convince her grandfather, so she introduced him about the RJVS and its work. Through the help of the organisation she won the trust of her grandfather who let Maya continue her studies. The organisation had appreciated her courage and suggested her name for the Garima Award. After winning the award she became more committed to her studies as well as encouraging other girls to do the same. She became an example to other girls. She says, “She had to decide her own future because her parents were not around her to do so.”