Bhopal: 2023 Saw Decisive Push Against Child Marriage

Bhopal: 2023 Saw Decisive Push Against Child Marriage

4 crore Indians pledged not to marry off their minor children.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Sunday, December 31, 2023, 06:40 PM IST
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Bhopal: 2023 Saw Decisive Push Against Child Marriage | FP Photo

Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): The year gone by - 2023 - will be remembered as the year when India rose against child marriage. Over 223 million child brides, which is one-third of the global total, are in India. From social reformers to governments, the outcry in Independent India against this crime has varied from being a whisper to a scream, but till a couple of years ago, it wasn’t loud enough to make any difference.

But not anymore. If, a few years from now, someone was to write the timeline of child marriage from its emergence to extinction, 2023 will be etched as the year when India’s fight against this crime took an unparalleled turn. It was in 2023 when state governments of 17 states spearheaded a tsunami of a movement and 4,91,25,475 people across 3,79,972 villages and 9,91,859 schools took a pledge against child marriage.

As part of a nationwide campaign against child marriage,led by Kailash Satyarthi Foundation, Madhya Pradesh, October 16 witnessed officials, government departments, young and old, men, women and children from around the country taking to streets and bylanes shouting slogans, taking pledges, and organizing candle marches throughout the day.

As part of the Child Marriage Free India campaign, from police stations to courtrooms, panchayats and community centres, from young children to old women survivors of child marriage, the entire country witnessed an overwhelming response with crores of people joining in and taking pledges to end child marriage.

FP Photo

It would not an exaggeration to say that Child Marriage Free India, which started as a silent movement, has turned into a tsunami of a movement with the state governments taking the lead and spearheading this fight to end child marriage. The nationwide campaign is led by women activists and is a coalition of over 160 community organisations in more than 300 districts with the aim of eliminating child marriage in India by 2030.

Book on child marriage released

Incidentally, a book ‘When Children Have Children: Tipping Point to End Child Marriage’ by child rights activist and noted Supreme Court lawyer Bhuwan Ribhu released simultaneously in over 200 districts on October 11 etches a clear roadmap on how to achieve the tipping point of child marriage and make India child marriage free by 2030.

As on November 21, 2023, 4,91,25,475 people have taken pledge in a total of 3,79,972 villages and 9,91,859 schools across the country. The goal now is to make the country child marriage free by 2030.

This goal is in contrast to the UN estimates that if India continues to progress the way it has in the last decade, the country’s child marriage rate could come down to six percent, but not before 2050. According to the National Health Family Survey V (2019-21), 23.3% women between the age group of 20-24 were married off before attaining the age of 18.

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