Requesting Funding Support for My Documentary Film
'Fight Against Child Marriage'
‘’Child marriage is linked to poverty, lack of education
and above all to the entrenched social norms that push parents to marry their
daughters early. To make sure that no child gets married before the age of 18,
we need to keep girls in school and to improve the position of girls and women
Child marriage is a violation of child rights and negatively affects a child’s development, education, health and future. Child marriage reinforces the cycle of poverty and perpetrates gender discrimination, illiteracy, as well as high infant and maternal mortality rates.
- In Assam, as per NFHS4, 32.6% women (20-24 years of age) were married before they turned 18 years of legal age for marriage
- In Assam, 23.3% men (25-29 years of age) were married before they turned 21 years
India has the highest number of child brides in the world. It is estimated that 27% of girls in India are married before their 18th birthday. Prevalence of child marriage in Assam is 32.8 percent while there are certain pockets where the prevalence is even higher. Additionally, the incidence is also high in areas impacted by civil strife and natural disasters. There are districts like- Kokrajhar (41%) and Chirang (34%) which are affected by protracted episodes of ethnic violence; Dhemaji (34%) is affected by perennial cycles of annual flood.
Child Marriage is a violation of child rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) recognizes the right to "free and full" consent to marry and says that a person must be mature enough to make an informed decision.The consequences of child marriage have a dramatic impact on girls in comparison to boys. Not only does it increase the incidence of teenage pregnancies, putting young mothers’ and their Childs’ lives at risk, but also limits development opportunities in life both for the mother and the new-born baby and increases the risks of violence and abuse.
There is a direct link between child marriage and education. Women with no education are six times more likely to get married than those with 10 years of education or more[i]. To make sure that no child gets married before the age of 18, we need to keep girls in school and to improve the position of girls and women in society.
Factors influencing rising Child Marriage incidences in Assam
There are a number of reasons for child marriage: Widely accepted and sanctioned social norms, Poverty, Lack of opportunities to access schooling, especially at secondary level, political patronage, which weakens law enforcement agencies, Gender norms and prescriptions, and lack of girl’s agency.
There is need to counteract these factors by shifting focus on ‘drivers of change’, to accelerate the decline in the rate of child marriage in the country:
Access to safe, affordable and quality secondary education
Empowerment of women and girls, and engagement with men and boys
Incentivizing change through social protection schemes
Agenda building and influencing public opinion to promote behaviour change
Consistent laws and stricter enforcement
Policy Framework: India has adopted laws to declare the practice illegal, and implemented a number of schemes to prevent it.
a)Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
b)Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, 2006
c)The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
d)Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
e)Eleventh Five-Year Plan 2007-2012 calls for the ‘compulsory registration of marriages and verification of age at the time of marriage’.6
f)National Plan of Action for Children 2005 sets the goal of eliminating Child Marriages by 2010 (Sections 6.1.4 and 7.1.3)
Despite the laws, and designated officials and roles, enforcement has been slow and the number of cases reported remain low.
- In addition to strengthening enforcement mechanisms there is a need to focus on ‘drivers of change’, to accelerate the decline in the rate of child marriage in the State:
- Access to safe, affordable and quality secondary education
- Empowerment of women and girls, and engagement with men and boys
- Incentivizing change through social protection schemes
- Agenda building and influencing public opinion to promote behaviour change
India has a staggering user network on the social media platforms. In 2019, it is estimated that there will be around 258.27 million social media users in India, up from close to 168 million in 2016. This growing user base can be an effective communication tool to disseminate and propagate the issue of child marriage with the internet users. In Assam, although specific numbers on user network is not available, social media is playing a critical role I sharing information. Evidence suggests that social media played a critical role in 2016 Assembly elections and is actively used by top decision-makers including the highest political leadership in the State. Increasingly, Government Departments are turning to social media to spread awareness on important campaigns-MR Vaccine by DHS(FW) and child protection campaigns run by Assam police are recent examples.
The primary aim of the documentary fill will be to connect with young people primarily in urban centres to create awareness on child marriage. The film will further amplify the advocacy with policy-makers and offline engagement with different stakeholders including media, faith leaders and celebrity influencers to create a vibrant discourse on child marriage and celebration of adolescent champions in the State.