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Women and Children

Women and children, especially those from poor marginalized communities, are a part of the most vulnerable segment of society. We use theatre to build awareness on gender and child rights, women and child health, schemes and opportunities for economic empowerment etc. We use theatre based approaches to mobilise community led action to address issues like health equity and violence against women and children. Theatre in Development is used innovatively to empower women and children with skills to seek and realise their rights.

  • 1 Creative Production On Child Rights
  • 2 Happy childhood
  • 3 Happy Schooling
  • 4 Health,Hygeine,Education and Childhood
  • 5 My Childhood My Rights
  • 6 Stop Child Abuse
  • 7 Theatre Games For Capacity Building
  • 8 Women Empowerment

Prevention of Child Marriage through Youth Participation, UNICEF, 2009 onwards

 

Child marriage is a social menace in India. Low value of girl child, dowry, lack of education and social sanction on child marriage are causative factors. Malda and Purulia are two districts of West Bengal with high prevalence of child marriage. We are working in these two districts to empower vulnerable children with knowledge, skills and access to resources to seek their rights. A grass root communication and mobilization program has been taken up in these two districts to build awareness on pitfalls of early marriage. 

  • • 47.3% of women of India aged 20-24 were married by age 18.
  • • In the state of West Bengal 54% girls are married off under the age of 18 years.  
  • •  As per, 65% of currently married women in Malda who are in the age group 20-24 years were married before 18 years, in Purulia around 55% women were married off before the age of 18 years.

Source:  NFHS-III &  DLHS 2007-2008

Awareness Campaigns

Street theatre shows by local folk artists, theatre groups, women, youth and adolescents have been held to improve awareness on pitfalls of child marriage. The shows reiterated the seminal messages like those on law against child marriage, pitfalls of early pregnancy, need of community led action for preventing child marriage, gender equality in an entertaining way thereby creating awareness among the community.  

Gambhira and Domni artists of Malda, Santhal folk artists of Malda and Purulia are using their traditional art forms for communication against child marriage. 

Empowering Children

District wide youth networks have been developed for advocacy against child marriage in both districts. The children are trained in building awareness on child rights and pitfalls of child marriage. The Child Champions are trained on skit development for campaign. In Malda skill development workshops were done with the Child Champions on Photography and village mapping.

The Youth Network formed with vulnerable children has become a vibrant forum. They are spreading awareness among other students and organizing awareness programme in different schools. The child champions of Malda have been linked with Kishori Samuhas being formed under the SABLA scheme. In Malda the children, many of whom were out of school or very irregular at school are now going to school and have aspirations for learning computers and other livelihood skills. They have motivated other children to join their groups. They have made lists of out of school children and have sent many of their peers back to school.

In Malda the Childline has received over 200 calls in one year (till April, 2012) and in most of the cases marriages were stopped through counseling while in few cases law was enforced. The villagers of Purulia have taken the initiative to identify 163 out of school children during the project tenure. These lists have been shared with BDOs, SIs and Shiksha Bandhus, In Arsha block 23 children have been linked to school after this intervention. In other blocks officials are looking into the matter.

 





Stories from the field

• The Child Champions of Harishchandrapur I stopped the marriage of a girl from Tildangi village of Mahendrapur GP. For preventing the marriage they first approached the Joint BDO of the block. Then with his help they informed the police station and Panchayat Pradhan. First they tried to convince the parents of the girl on that matter. But as the parents were adamant on their decision the police had to intervene to stop the marriage.

• A Muslim family in Harishchandrapur-I under Mahendrapur GP in Bhowanipur village was trying to marry off two girls. The child champions at Mahendrapur High School informed the police and the marriages were stopped by the police.

• The child champions of Daulatpur prevented the marriage of a 13 years old girl. They first informed Child Line of the marriage and gave them the relevant details. Harishchandrapur Police Station took the final step of visiting the spot and preventing the marriage.

• The child champions of Jhalda I of Purulia district have prevented marriage of a member of the group from Danrda village. Both of her parents are daily labourer. The child champions got to know about the marriage and went to her father and succeeded in convincing him about the implications of child marriage. As a result the parents have been convinced to let her continue her studies.

• The child champions of Jhalda II have stopped the marriage of a girl from Bamnia village. She is a member of the child champion group. Her father decided to marry her off due to their poverty. But with the intervention of the child champions the marriage has been cancelled by the parents.


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