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Mar 7, 2017

Finding Solutions to Early and Forced Marriage

Oxfam India

Lucknow- 14 February 2017

A roundtable meeting was organised on 14 February in Lucknow. Around 65 participants from 22 districts of four zones (Central, Eastern/Purvanchal, western and Bundelkhand region) of Uttar Pradesh were present in the meeting. These participants came from NGO’s, social activist groups and organizations those working with the women groups on the issue of women rights.

Mr Nandkishor, regional manager Oxfam India, welcomed all the participants and talked about the perspective of the organisation on the issue of Early and Forced Marriage and Domestic Violence. He also talked about Oxfam India’s campaign “Bano Nayi Soch”.  The Advocate Ms Renu and Advocate Apoorva from AALI, Lucknow discussed about the status, data, ground realities and challenges of implementation of both laws. 

According to the last Census data –over 100 million Indian women from nearly 600 million, were married before the age of 18 years. Yet, according to NCRB data for 2001-11, only 948 cases were registered against those promoting or performing child marriages and only 157 individuals were convicted. Domestic violence continues to be one of the most widespread, underreported and unrecognised. According to a National Family Health Survey (NHFS) study, nearly 50% of men and women surveyed believe that hitting their wives is acceptable. 

The panellist members Prof (Dr) Roop Rekha Verma (feminist and activist) and Ms Heena Desai (Activist) shared their views too. They also discussed about the importance of separate budget allocation, effective implementation of both the Acts, appointment of full-time protection officers, provision of proper infrastructure and facilities, public awareness.

Impact

After the roundtable, the participants started grassroots level awareness meetings with the community. One such meeting was organised by social activist Ms Reena in village Shekhpur on 23 February. She made them aware about the Domestic Violence Act and its provisions. She also shared a charter of demands which women have signed.

Chhattisgarh- 25 February 2017

The growth rate of Chhattisgarh is on upsurge and the society is also changing rapidly, however, the mindsets and social norms around child marriage have not changed much. 

A state roundtable was organised to build our partners' and civil society’s perspective on this issue. Oxfam India and Nivedita Foundation had jointly organised the roundtable on 25th February, and saw active participation by 80 attendees Ms. Shatabdi Pandey (Chairperson, SCPCR), Ms. Varsha Mishra (Add. SP, Police Dept), Mr Tuhin dev (State Resource Center, Raipur), Ms. Neelam Devangan (Child Welfare Committee, Women & Child Dev. Dept), Ms Sarmishthi Solomon (HRLN), Mr Dinesh (CRY), Mr Prabhat (Room to Read), Mr Ashish Das (SROUT) among others participated in the conference.

The major discussions were around international, national and state perspective of Child Early and Forced Marriage. Additionally, the discussion revolved around understanding the violation of children’s human rights. The social, economic and cultural dimensions were discussed in length along with the implementation status of the Child Marriage Act. 

While analysing the data, it was discussed that in the Census report 2011 released by the Registrar General of India, it is clear that the trend of child marriage is more common in rural areas of Chhattisgarh. The number of girls married between the ages of 10 to 19 years is over 37,000 in urban areas, the number has increased to over 1.65 lakh in rural areas.    

The participants expressed their concern over the fact that nearly 3,600 girls have been widowed at a young age. Almost 1,800 widowers are of the same age and over 600 girls are divorced or living separately. 

Further, participants unanimously subscribed that stopping child marriage is not the solution. The problem is more deep-rooted with concerns like poverty, inequality, dowry, insecurity, lack of educational opportunities, social and cultural norms, proclaiming family and community honour, violence remaning unaddressed. Until and unless the dent is not made on these issues, early child and forced marriage will continue to prevail.  

 

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