Child marriage is a major issue in many parts of the country. One such place is Mouldanga village of Birbhum district of West Bengal. Just a few kilometers away from Sriniketan, a cultural hub, this place is cursed by the demons of child marriage along with many other problems like poverty and lack of education.
A Reality Check conducted by children of Mouldanga Shishu Panchayat looked at the reasons of growing number of child marriages in the village. The children found illiteracy to be the main reason. Due to lack of education people are not aware of the correct age of marriage and the harmful consequences of child marriage. Poverty was another reason for parents to give away their girls for marriage. The children are forced to get married by their families so that they can get rid of the burden of responsibilities as early as possible. Most of these families are debt-ridden and are not left with many options. The team came across two incidents of child marriages in the village. She described how a girl was married at a tender age and got separated from her husband within fifteen days and then was forced to re-marry another child from the same village which didn’t last either. The girl even attempted suicide but she survived.
Another incident was of a family with four sisters. One of these sisters was burnt to death for dowry. Another got married and became mother at a very young age and now she suffers from a disease.
At a tender age of playing and studying, these children are imposed with responsibilities and household matters. Their innocence is being snatched away. Child marriage is a social evil which causes domestic violence, health issues, lack of education and sometimes even death. There is an utmost need to demolish this ill practice.
The Modanga Shishu Panchayat feels that to stop child marriage major awareness programmes needs to be taken up and educate people especially girls. I and some of our team members are trying our best to teach the women of the village to read and write. We don’t charge money to teach ‘Bratachari’ to the children of Mouldanga.
We should find a solution of the adverse effects of this social evil by creating more awareness. The society should fight this social monster and make the country a better place to live in.
Author: Mala Khatun, Class – X, Mouldanga, Bopur ,West Bengal (translated from Bengali by local coordinator)