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70 Indian Districts Report High Incidence Of Child Marriages, Girls Take A Stand

16-year-old Radha from Koderma district in Jharkhand goes to school diligently. Her father however, had fixed her marriage. Her wedding was to have taken place on June 23rd, but Radha would have none of it.

Head of the Bal Panchayat of Tikait Tola – a Bal Mitra Gram under the Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation, Radha is fully aware of her rights, aware that child marriage is illegal.

When Radha found out about her marriage, she fought against it. She even tried to explain it to her parents but her efforts went in vain.

Also Read: Survivor-led Intelligence Network Helps Rescue Over 9,000 Children Trafficked During COVID-19 Pandemic

Today, Radha has become a role model for many others girls who are married off against their will. In recognition of her incredible bravery & determination, Jharkhand government recognized her as the brand ambassador of Koderma district, against child marriage.

She even shared her story with Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, even though her own family has stopped talking to her now, miffed at her for stopping her marriage.

Radha says,

When Kailash Satyarthi found out about this, he was in constant touch with me, and even spoke to my parents. As the brand ambassador of this district, whenever I find out about an imminent child marriage in the village or the neighbourhood, I go there to put an end to it. I tell them my own personal experience to create awareness about child marriage. 

As per the 2011 census, there are a staggering 12 million child marriages in India. And NCRB data suggests that only 2,824 of these were registered as cases under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, during 2011 to 2019. 

Also Read: Human Trafficking Survivors Report Suspicious Movement Of Children For A Crackdown On Traffickers

Om Prakash Pal, executive director of the Bal mitra gram programme, KSCF explained

The Bal Panchayats, formed under Kailash Satyarthi's leadership, monitor the situation in their respective villages. They organise meetings and spread awareness. It was during one of the meetings that we found out that instances of child marriage have increased. In the last 3 months, 22 child marriages have been successfully stopped by the Bal Panchayat. They were helped in this by local authorities, Childline and their local community. 

Though education and awareness programs are playing their part in taking on this critical issue, numbers are still alarming. As many as 70 of India's districts reported "high incidence" of underage marriages.

If you know of such a case, or see it happening around you, call 100, or call ChildLine at 1098 or the Bachpan Bachao Andolan Complaint Cell number 1800 102 7222.

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