Project Rationale – Every child has a right to education, recreation and leisure, in view of this right of every child and believing that girl child marriages are really a problem linked to lack of child education, that was taken up this project.
India is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. India has hereby declared that all children of the age group of 6-14 years should get free and compulsory education. It strives to protect children from exploitation and abuses of all forms including sexual exploitation. We also have an act opposing and restraining child marriage; such incidences of child marriages result in multiple problems for the girls as they grow. The prevalence of child marriages grossly violates the child rights as stated above.
PIRD as organization working with the children in work (child labour) since last decade and have conviction in, that they are most vulnerable and marginalized sects of the community if additional burden of marriage is imposed on them.
Also to check and study the magnitude and scale of the problem; had conducted a survey through which we could draw number of conclusions and come to some concrete strategic interventions to control the intensity and reduce the magnitude of the problem of girl child marriage.
We strongly believe that girl child marriage is a social evil and the effect of girl child marriage on the child, her future, the family, society, the country and its development remains as a scar of social wickedness and retards the overall development of the child for life time. The survey conducted by the organization has showered light on number of aspects ranging age factor of the girl child to her social status, economic status and educational status. We were keen on executing a project which was very meticulously designed with micro level studies and learning’s; aiming at ensuring formal academic education, imparting life skills and giving the adolescent girls a variety of opportunities for healthy recreation.
We look forward to this project as one of the most innovative and pioneering projects designed for adolescent girls aiming at preventing early marriage of girl children procuring participation of multiple stake holders like their parents, schools, village panchayat, farmers groups, village based government officers, civil hospital, different departments of government, other NGO’s, networks working for prevention of girl child marriages. Girl child marriage is a complex issue and therefore the organization felt the need of integrated approach and the involvement of all sections of society to tackle this problem right from its roots.
Considering prevention being better than cure, project on prevention of girl child was envisaged and executed in 30 villages.
The major reasons of girl child marriages identified through the survey were
- Poverty – The human development report – 2002 points that the contribution of Marathwada region in the state income is only 1.23% and also points that per head income of latur district in 1998-99 was 13677/- and where as on the state level it was 22763/-per head. The percentage of families from Latur district living below the poverty line was 28.13%. To overcome the poverty situations 72.85% of man day’s employment was generated under NREGS project by the state but in spite of all these efforts migration of landless laborers and marginal farmers could not be controlled. Poverty comes in a packet which also includes starvation, low health & violence and often the females are the major victim of it.
- Stringent traditions & customs – Marathwada region was been ruled by Muslim regime coming from outside the country and therefore the influence of Muslim culture, traditions & norms were highly influencing the life style of the people. Especially the women were imposed with stringent traditions & customs. The women were kept behind curtains and had no free mobility which resulted in lots of restrictions on them. Girl child marriages were part of this tradition and to get rid of the responsibilities of safeguarding the girls/females they were married off at a very early age. This tradition is followed very blindfold even today. The reasons have changed today but the custom is still followed.
- Mindset of families and society as whole – girls are considered as a burden and need to be protected as they are prone to lot of indifferences, violence & cruelty. If girls are give freedom and independence they are likely to be the victim of dreadful experiences. If sent out for education, they may raise voice and if given confidence may question the system and so are left with no development, growth & freedom. Mindset of families and society retard the development of the girls and result of which is they are pushed in to lot of problems including early marriage.
- Gender bias – Bias, prejudices & discrimination towards the girl child is the one phenomenon seen towards the females of all ages. From the very beginning of life; girls are the victim of gender bias. Discrimination starts from womb; female infanticide is one of the examples of gender bias. Males are considered as ‘fame’ for the families where as girls are considered as ‘burden’. As all the opportunities of development, progress and growth are showered on male children. Girls being married at the very tender age; is one of the outcomes of gender bias.
- Lesser opportunities for the girls to be educated (Latur district has primary schooling facilities in all 448 villages i.e. class I to IV. But in 50% of these schools there is no facility of schooling from class 7th. The following status shows that only 20% of girls reach 7th class & 25% of boys reach 7th )
|Data collected from 2001 EMIS|
- Illiteracy amongst the parents and the adolescent girls are the major reasons of adolescent girl child marriages. Lack of knowledge, information, life skills, higher level of superstitions & blind faith also add to the belief in girl child marriages. Form the selected 30 villages, 13 villages have schooling facility. 4 villages have schooling facility up to 5th 2 villages have classes up to 6th class & 11 villages have classes up to 7th class. Whereas 4 villages have schooling up to 10th class and one village up to 12th class which are run by private institutions. Out of 914 villages in Latur district only 484 schools have classes up to 7th class. The below mentioned chart illustrates the explanation.
- Girl child trafficking – Per head income of Maharashtra is 22763 where as Latur district of Marathwada region constitutes 13677 of income per head and the percentage of families below poverty line is 28.16% as per the 2001 records of state report. All this figures indicate the poverty status of the respective district of Marathwada region.
It is been estimated that 256672 landless & marginal farmers migrate seasonally in search of work for 90 to 120 days per year. Poverty also makes an adverse effect on adolescent girls. Utter poverty resulting in hunger & food shortage and adolescent girls being considered as burden are picked for domestic work in better off cities and also in demand in the flesh market; both with consent of parents or by mis-guiding them. Every year number of adolescent girls is seen missing from their village. India stands 3rd in flesh market and Latur ranks in first 5 districts in case of girl child trafficking.
Impact of girl child marriages on the girls were noted as
- Low literacy level or illiteracy
- Early motherhood, mother & child mortality, deteriorating health of adolescent girls
- Domestic responsibilities at a very tender age
- Lesser opportunities to build knowledge base, skill base and life skills
- Domestic violence, sexual & physical violence and fading of self confidence and self reliance
- Low decision making and self-efficacy.
Different Stake Holders identified & involved in project were
- Family members
- Adolescent boys
- Youth groups
- Women folk
- Local schools
- Farmers groups
- Village panchayat members
- Village level government officials
- Community based organizations & groups
Key intervention planned & executed under the said project were
- Village level awareness generation programs
- Unique meetings with different stake holders
- Organization of village gram sabha
- Special meetings with adolescent boys
- Special awareness generation programs for the women & adolescent girls
- Life skills and soft skills development Programs for adolescent girls
- Village level community organizers training course
- Use of different tools to create public awareness