The Census 2011 figures indicate that Rajasthan ranks third among all states in India with respect to prevalence of child marriage. Approximately 7.2 lakh girls in Rajasthan were married before age 18 years in the 0-4 years prior to Census 2011. While child marriage is prevalent in all the districts, the census figures show wide variations between the districts. 15 districts in the state have high prevalence of child marriage, when compared to the state average.
The root causes of child marriage range from deep-rooted gender biasness, traditional norms and social practices, poverty, safety and security, and insufficient or no access to schooling especially secondary education. A careful analysis of the reasons and consequences of child marriages seems to clearly suggest that there is need combine both macro and micro level factors in ways that would impact an adolescent’s life; by giving them opportunities to make informed choices and operate within a safe environment, free from violence.
Campaign for a child-marriage-free Rajasthan
In July 2016, the Government of Rajasthan, with support from UNFPA and UNICEF, launched Sajha Abhiyaan: A joint campaign for a child-marriage-free Rajasthan. This important campaign has now being taken to the districts, blocks and villages of the state through a multi-facetted outreach campaign, which was rolled out from Dausa, on 24th October 2016.
Professional singers of different age groups sang a campaign song live at the launch. The refrain “Ab bal vivah nahi hoga Rajasthan mey” (Now there will be no child marriages in Rajasthan) worked like magic to get everyone to ‘voice’ their support. Shorter versions of the song have also been produced for use as caller tunes on mobiles.
Mural of Dreams
Imagine a village wall located alongside a busy lane. It could be the outer wall of the anganwadi, school boundary, the wall of someone’s house, or even the railing around the village well. As a part of the Saajha Abhiyaan, adolescents in numerous villages across Rajasthan will get together to paint how they visualise growing up educated, healthy and self-reliant, it will be a unique visual appeal to put an end to child marriage. This campaign has been aptly named Sapno Ka Mandna (Mural of Dreams).