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The project was initiated in 2012. It is being implemented in the following districts and blocks:
|West Bengal||Andhra Pradesh|
The project aims at interventions at the State and local level. Learnings from the states were taken to the national level discussions on child marriage. We are interacting with duty bearers to facilitate them in taking action for preventing child marriage. Towards this various activities at state, district and Gram Panchayat are being implemented.
It is too early, to measure results. But the interventions so far have shown some encouraging responses. The state level consultations were attended by the senior government officials, representatives of INGO and NGOs, academicians and media in each of the states who agreed on the importance of focusing on systems strengthening and addressing the issue of child marriage as violation of right to protection of children.
A rapid assessment in the project area as facilitated the planning of interventions. Various task forces have been set up at the District, Block and Panchayat levels who have promised to work towards the prevention of child marriages. Adolescent girls, parents-particularly mothers, youth religious leaders are being mobilised. After a year’s intervention, students and teachers are coming forward with information about child marriages in the offing. Girls are now able to share information on their peers’ possible marriage Several priests, maulavis and pundits have agreed not to solemnize marriages without asking for age proofs and even put up boards saying so. Panchayat members are taking the lead in speaking against child marriages and even sometimes preventing them. Child marriage registers have been initiated in panchayats in West Bengal. Some communities are even taking a pledge to prevent child marriages.
A girl who had been married despite all our efforts in Andhra Pradesh, was widowed soon after. She is now studying in grade 9. Wherever the marriages could be stopped the girls have continued with their studies. However, the most effort is going to strengthening government systems, especially those set up as part of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme.
The first challenge is the receiving of timely information on proposed child marriages. The second big challenge is bring able to stop the marriage by convincing the parents, the family and the community.
What is more, even after a marriage has been “stopped” after a lot of counseling and negotiation, it is found that parents travel to another state of district and solemnize the marriage.
Field workers complain of being threatened and intimidated for trying to stop child marriages