BOSTON, March 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
Its education and awareness that is driving girl children in India to stand up against abuse and forced marriage
As she talks about girl child empowerment, the grit and determination in her voice is unmistakable. She speaks with a vehement fervor advocating the importance of education to the children's collective council in her village, of which she is the Vice President.
She is Shravani, 16. It is hard to believe that she was almost forced to become a child bride a few years back.
From facing the indifference herself to being instrumental in freeing other young girls from the clutches of early marriage, she has come a long way. She was in grade 6 when she was forced to drop out of school and get married, like her elder sister. Intervention of CRY - Child Rights and You (America) supported project partner Shramika Vikasa Kendram, helped her stand up for her rights and voice her opinion against her early marriage. She not just convinced her family to let her continue with her education, but embarked on a brave journey to spread awareness about children's right to education and the ill-effects of child marriage. When Shravani was in Class 10, she mobilized all children in the children's collective to convince parents of a fellow classmate to not force her into child marriage and let her continue her education.
Shravani is not a lone case. More and more young girls are shedding inhibitions and standing up against early marriage. Programs aimed at educating and empowering girls are beginning to bear fruit, giving these girls the confidence to say "no" to early marriage, which, for many, would once have been a foregone conclusion. While these cases bring out a ray of hope, statistics imply that a lot more effort needs to be made to sensitize families and communities on the physical, mental and emotional implications of child marriage and the need for a girl child to be educated. This gains unprecedented importance especially in a country, which has the highest absolute number of child brides in the world.
According to the status of children in India report released by CRY's America's partner CRY India, nearly 45% girls get married before the age of eighteen years [NFHS (National Family Health Survey)-III]. Number of child marriages exceeds 50% in eight states in India.
Child marriage is a problem which is deep rooted within the socio-economic structures in India. Early marriage is associated with a number of health problems with adolescent girls; early pregnancy leads to high rates of abortion and other health implications. Child marriage does not constitute a single right violation; rather it triggers a continuum of violations that continues throughout the girl's life. Girls married as children are often denied educational opportunities, are isolated from society and face a lifetime of economic dependence.
Dropping out of school because of forced early marriage is a common phenomenon. It thus becomes imperative to ensure that this roadblock is removed for girl children to complete their education and realize their full potential. An educated girl child is equipped to stand up against abuse and early marriage and also advocate the same to others in the community.
"Early marriage affects a girl child in more ways than one. Not just is she prone to emotional and health related repercussions but she is also deprived of her right to education. Forced early marriage leaves her with no option but to drop out of school. Vice versa, dropping out of school due to any other reason makes her more vulnerable to be married off early. It is a vicious cycle that has implications on the girl child's entire life," says CRY America President, Ms. Shefali Sunderlal.
CRY America has been working on eliminating these obstacles that hinder girl child education and force them to drop out of school. They have recently launched a fundraising campaign 'Stay In School' which aims to remove roadblocks like early marriage amongst others and advocate the importance of girl child education. This campaign which was kicked off on the 14th of February will be spread over 75 days.
She added, "Working on-ground we have witnessed the impact educating young girls has had on their self confidence and understanding of their rights. The courage to say 'no' to abuse and forced marriage and standing up for her, stems from the education they receive, hence making it extremely important."
Education is one of the biggest drivers that will further fuel these girls' dreams to rise and shine. It not only ensures a happy, healthy and productive life for the girl but the benefits percolate to the generations to come. Shravani has completed her Class 10th this year. She wants to continue her education and secure a seat in a social welfare residential college and is doing her Intermediate first year with Maths, Physics and Chemistry as main subjects.
She dreams of becoming a teacher.
With this being the beginning of a lasting change, we are sure she and many others like her will finally realize their dreams.
Contact: Manoj Sharma, +91-9811135420
SOURCE Cry America