Thirteen year-old Pratiksha Kumari from the Indian state of Bihar successfully prevented a friend from being forced into child marriage. This is good news we always welcome in the hope that many other girls will be empowered to choose their own future.
State-level youth consultation
During a state-level youth consultation to prevent early marriages in Bihar, Pratiksha was cited, along with two other youth, for being a role model. The youth consultation which was held last December 22, marked the end of the SRHR alliance programme and was organised by Simavi partners BVHA, SEWA and Restless Development.
Boys can be effective partners in eradicating child marriages
Pratiksha, a peer educator, courageously stopped a child marriage with the help of a village chief. Meanwhile, another awardee, 17-year-old Sanjeet Kumar, prevented his own marriage by convincing his parents. This shows that boys can be effective partners in eradicating child marriages. The third awardee, 16 year-old Jyoti Kumari, was cited for her heart-warming role-playing performance during the Youth Consultation.
More than 60 girls and boys, mostly peer educators, from different districts of Bihar participated in the event. They shared their experiences and the problems their communities face regarding child marriages. One participant said because of dowry and having big families, parents are forced to marry off their girls and boys early. Some of them also shared that many youth do not have access to education or skills training. Thus, making the chances of forced early marriage higher.
The issue of child marriage
One in nine girls in developing countries is forced into marriage before they reach the age of 15. In India, it is an issue that increases the vulnerability of thousands of girls. It does not only violate their rights, but also puts their lives in danger. Child marriage also hinders the capacity of girls to develop emotionally and physically. They are not only denied their childhood but are often socially isolated with limited opportunities for education and employment. Read our new publication against child marriage.
The Youth Consultation was graced by the Chairperson of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Nisha Jha. She was particularly impressed by the level of awareness of the youth participants and how they work hard to prevent early marriages in their respective communities.