Justice For Every Child - A Pan India Campaign Against Child Marriage
Justice For Every Child - A Pan India Campaign Against Child Marriage
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Child Marriage Is A Social Evil And Gives Birth To Crimes Like Child Sexual Abuse: Kailash Satyarthi

Child Marriage Is A Social Evil And Gives Birth To Crimes Like Child Sexual Abuse: Kailash Satyarthi

New Delhi:  "Tonight is the beginning of a new sun. While the sun has set across the country, a new sun is rising in our hearts. These torches will end the age-old practise of child marriage and make India a new India. Our sisters and daughters will lead the campaign and we will not stop until we end child marriage", said Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi as he ignited a torch to eliminate the evil of child marriage and launched Child Marriage Free India, a pan-India campaign. 70,000 women joined the fight across 26 states and union territories (UTs).

Child marriage is prohibited in India and contact with a minor is a punishable offence. In fact, many state governments have introduced social security programmes to keep girls from getting married at a young age. Despite this, 23 out of 100 girls are married before the age of 18.

10 key things Kailash Satyarthi said at the launch of Child Marriage Free India:

  1. The biggest reason behind this (child marriage) is the lack of social consciousness and accepting child marriage as a ritual and custom. Many people think that marrying off girls at a young age increases their security but this is an age-old thinking. Today, we have laws to protect girls. Earlier fewer girls would get an education but today, many girls are getting an education.”

  2. Many times, a family's poor financial condition comes in the way. People think that girls are a burden on a family, so why spend on their education so let us marry her off at a young age and send her to her husband's house. She belongs to a foreign house. The biggest problem is our thinking.

  3. Another issue is a lack of knowledge about laws or ignoring the laws and turning a blind eye towards them. A lot of political leaders, I speak to, say that it is the issue of our caste and culture, our vote bank, there are so many voters that we have to attend marriages. However, if the politicians are going, if the influential people are attending the wedding ceremonies of minor girls, that is a crime in itself. It is a crime against humanity, a crime against those children.

  4. Some people use girls for trafficking and take them away in lieu of marriage. Some people take girls away from their homes as domestic help. Child marriage is a social evil and the kind of evil that gives birth to multiple crimes like child sexual abuse. It provides a license, and social acceptance to fewer people to perpetuate the rape of those girls and sexual abuse, as well as selling and buying them like animals.

  5. To address the issue, we need two things - social consciousness that sees girls and boys as equal and we should respect them. Secondly, the laws should be followed. Keepers of laws should be held liable for this. Police should mandatorily file FIR against child marriages and take action against all people involved – priests, guests, decorators, and caterers, among others. What is needed is accountability for those responsible for the implementation of the law against child marriages.

  6. I feel there are three biggest enemies that run this ecosystem and that becomes a well-accepted, validated system in this entire ecosystem. They are fear, silence and shame.

  7. People who know that child marriage is bad, it is evil, and a crime, do not speak out. They fear shame and torture.

  8. The second is, silence – it perpetuates violence in this ecosystem. Girls and their mothers choose to remain silent because they are scared of the shame that will bring upon their families and village. Mothers are afraid that no one will marry their girl.

  9. The third thing is a shame. All three are interrelated. They propel crime against children. A war against these three is also important.

  10. I plead to everyone involved in a wedding - band people, decorators, caterers, religious leaders and others - we are planning to bring them all together. I believe that their daughters and sisters will relate to the campaign. I request their families to stop their fathers from getting involved in this crime. Anywhere in the country, if anyone takes a stand against child marriage and faces backlash, we will support them. I will go to safeguard them if any problem arrives.

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