“Maa, I want to study right now and not get married” pleaded Laxmi, a 13 year old girl from a backward community of Bihar. Lakshmi, a bright student studying in class VII was forced into early marriage. At a tender age of 15, she had to bear a child and lost her life while giving birth to the baby. Like her, many girls at her age are pushed into early marriage and motherhood while they are neither mentally nor physically prepared.
Despite the fact, girls are most vulnerable during teenage, they are forced to give up their dreams. Instead, they are taught to start a family. Unaware about their basic human, health and reproductive rights, they tend to fall victims to illness, injury and exploitation.
India leads the league with highest number of child brides as compared to other nations. Though the number of girls getting married between 15 to 18 years have reduced significantly in India, but the rate of early marriages has increased for girls between the same age group. According to the estimates, approximately 47% of the girls get married before completing 18 years of age. The rate of child marriage is recorded to be highest in Bihar and Rajasthan. It varies between 65 to 69 in both these states.
The government Council of the United Nations Development Programme recommended that the 11th day of July every year should be observed by the international community as a World Population Day. Understanding, the vulnerable status of girl children across the world, UNDP suggested a day to focus attention towards the importance of issues related to growing population. The theme for 2016 is ‘Investing in teenage girls’.
The situations have not improved for teenage- girls, especially the ones belonging to minor-communities, economically backward communities or remote areas. Fiinovation believes that if these girls from adverse situations are educated abour their rights, they will surely succeed while advocating a positive change among across their communities. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) programme aims to end child marriage, address the issues of adolescent pregnancy, generating awareness about healthy living among young girls. Till now, the UNFPA programme has succesfully supported 11.2 million girls, between the age group of 10 to 19 years to have an easy access to basic sexual and reproductive health services .
Today, it is important for the leaders and communities to direct their focus on human rights of girls from arduous backgrounds such as those who are poverty-stricken, out of school, exploited or are victims of adverse practices of trafficking or child marriage.
By – Aditi Singh
Media Team – Fiinovation