News / Asia

Indian Girls Rise Up Against Child Marriage

Indian Girls Rising Up Against Child Marriagei
|| 0:00:00
X
Aru Pande
October 10, 2012 7:11 PM
Child marriage is an ancient practice in India, and despite being illegal, it continues today in mostly rural areas. Nearly half of women in India are married before the age of 18 and many of those become brides much younger. VOA’s Aru Pande reports that one group in eastern India is looking to change this trend.

Indian Girls Rising Up Against Child Marriage

Aru Pande
— Child marriage is an ancient practice in India, and despite being illegal, it continues today in mostly rural areas. Nearly half of women in India are married before the age of 18 and many of those become brides much younger.

But one group in eastern India is looking to change this trend.
 
Bithika Das is concentrating on her school work. The 16-year-old girl from a small village in West Bengal state knows this opportunity to study is one that was nearly lost two years ago when her parents arranged her marriage to a young man.
 
“If I got married then, my education would have stopped at ninth grade. I could have achieved nothing in the future with an incomplete education. In my husband’s family, I was not going to get good respect,” she said.

Foundation fights back

After her parents' refusal to cancel the marriage arrangement, Bithika contacted the Murshidabad office of the Childline India Foundation. The group runs a 24-hour hotline, providing counseling and other help to children in crisis.
 
Childline activist Debika Ghoshal led the team that helped stall the marriage of then-14-year-old Bithika. The group works with local police to lodge criminal complaints against parents who do not comply with the law banning child marriage. Activists then focus on ensuring that a young girl is able to continue with her education.
 
“The girls say they want to study further. They are closer to the media and they know that society - the world - is marching ahead; everyone is advancing," said Ghoshal. "So, they, too, want to move ahead. But mostly because of poverty and partly for some other social reasons the parents want to marry them [their daughters] off in their childhood.”

Money a factor

By marrying off their young daughters, poor families can reduce their financial burden and, in some cases, avoid paying a higher dowry to the child's potential in-laws.
 
Murshidabad resident Amena Begum had hoped to marry off her 14-year-old daughter, but the marriage was thwarted by activists and her daughter returned to school.
 
“Where shall I get a suitable groom for her if I don’t marry her off right now, and let her study further, and finally she turns 25?” asked Begum.
 
The United Nations already has raised awareness of the consequences of child marriage in India, citing the higher drop-out rates of child brides and their greater risk of being physically and sexually abused.
 
Childbirth versus education

But the effect can be more grave. UNICEF says girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are more likely to experience delivery complications during childbirth and that neonatal, infant and child mortality rates are much higher for young mothers.
 
For now, young girls like Bithika are being spared this fate as they rise up against a centuries-old practice.

"I know when I marry in the future I will go to a good family, and because of my strength and job I will get respect there. They will not be able to neglect me," said Bithika.

This teenager has finished at the top of her class and has been recognized by the president for her courage. She now has a different vision of her future - one that involves becoming a school teacher.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dr.Muhammad Naeem from: Pakistan,Karachi
October 20, 2012 10:23 AM
I would like to say in this regard that awareness about it is very important.


by: Muhammad Tariq Ghouri from: Pakistan
October 14, 2012 3:18 PM
Every single person has right to live his or her life as he/she wish, No one has right to snatch basic rights. Bithika became the role model for others girls who lives in this type of society,


by: anwarali from: rajasthan bhadra
October 11, 2012 10:41 AM
good


by: paris tun from: myanmar
October 11, 2012 7:45 AM
We need a lot of good heroes to get rid of horrible traditions like child marriage.Our world is hungering for heroes.Feel very bad to hear that many women become victims of this terrible tradition. But glad to hear that there are good people with compassion,help those who are in need. They are definitely the hope of many children.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid