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Eliminating Child Marriages : Campaign By Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi Launched In Rajasthan

by | Oct 17, 2022 | India

While Jharkhand holds the dubious distinction of the highest numbers of reported child marriages (NFHS-5 data), Rajasthan also remains high up the order.


New Delhi, October 17: Rather in the fitness of things, Noble Laureate Kailash Satyarthi chose Viratnagar in Rajasthan for the renewed and three year long nationwide campaign to eliminate the social curse of child marriages.

While Jharkhand holds the dubious distinction of the highest numbers of reported child marriages (NFHS-5 data), Rajasthan also remains high up the order.

According to the latest National Family Health Survey, 25.4 percent of Rajasthani women aged between 20-24 years were married off before the marriageable age of 18 years.

October last, the Ashok Gehlot government had found itself at the end of the stick for bringing the Rajasthan Compulsory Registrations of Marriage Amendment Bill 2021, which proposed that registration of all marriages including those of minors be made mandatory.

Following an Opposition uproar that the amended law amounted to validating the social evil and opening the floodgates for child marriages, the Gehlot government hastily withdrew the amendment.

More than four decades earlier, then Indian Express reporter Ashwani Sarin had shocked the national consciousness by presenting at at a New Delhi press conference the slave woman Kamala, who he had purchased. In the intervening years, the central and state governments have enacted laws, programs and schemes; social awareness campaigns have been launched; books and documentaries have been done.

But child marriages have continued to remain a dark blot on Indian social life. According to the NFHS-V data, 23.3 percent of child marriages happened between 2019-21. The survey found that every fourth woman in the 20-24 age group had been married off before they turned 18. According to the 2011 census data, 51,57,863 girls were found married off before attaining the legal marriageable age. The issue has social, political, administrative and economic dimensions. “Poor families often marry off their young daughters out of acute poverty in the absence of adequate state support for the girl child. Such matrimonial alliances also continue to get social sanction. All the more reason for the central and state governments to strengthen girl empowerment programs such as providing for free and compulsory education to girls up till the age of 18 years. We are also pressing for an increase in the marriageable age of girls from 18 to 21”, said Satyarthi who, in 2017, had launched a Bharat Yatra to bring awareness on sexual violence against children.

The current campaign launched by the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation -in association with over 20 government and non government agencies – will cover 500 districts in 26 states through the involvement of 70,000 women leaders. The Viratnagar launch program was attended by Liberian Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee.

Srinanda Jha
Srinand Jha
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Journalist by accident, rail, travel and political buff by choice - dissenter by compulsion. Interested in policy and governance.