It is an irrefutable fact that a large number of child marriages are performed in violation of the existing provisions of the law. This social evil has been existing in the society for centuries and has made social reforms imperative for the development of the masses. To ensure this, awareness about the rigid social conventions and outdated customs that are dehumanizing and irrational is the most crucial step. With this in mind, a 15 day long Radio Awareness Campaign was launched by Radio Madhuban on April 21, 2014.
Although technology has revolutionized the world but social traditions still continue to hamper development in rural India. What common people fail to comprehend is that with changing times, customs and social norms have to be modified and adopted to suit the present context.
Radical opinions and views of local youth were identified through the programme ‘Youth Junction’ and shared with the local people. This show was broadcast from 5:30pm to 6pm. Radio Madhuban also actively organized village outreach programmes with the help of Asha Sahyogni from various Aanganvadi institutions of Sirohi. Having understood the problems of early marriage and motherhood, they highlighted the physical, mental and psychological trauma associated with child marriage.
Interviews of people from different walks of life such as educationists, social workers, advocates, policemen, government officials and common people etc. were broadcast from 6pm to 6:30pm every day to awaken and inspire local people to take steps against child marriage.
A lot of local women were found to be in agreement with these and accepted that they had to face these problems regularly. Most of the women have regularly been sharing their experiences of early marriage and the consequent problems they had to face on Radio Madhuban which were aired from 7:30pm to 8pm in the programme ‘MeraGaonMeraAnchal’.
During the campaign, several informative and encouraging interactions and interviews were broadcast on Radio Madhuban to further augment the outreach of the programme. Excerpts from the same are as follows:
Mr. Pushpendra Singh, who is a teacher at Keshav Balvidyamandir, Amthala shared that once one of his students was forcibly being married off. Understanding the gravity of the situation Mr. Singh convinced the parents about the detrimental consequences of child marriage and informed them that the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 categorized any such activity as a criminal offence. Subsequently, the marriage was denied and the boy started attending school thereafter.
Dr. Giri Raj, an Ayurvedic doctor, on Radio Madhuban linked child marriage with health. Owing to lack of nutrition and education, those who fall prey to child marriage are usually weak themselves, and give birth to children who suffer from malnutrition. They are also unable to educate their children. Usually, the mother and child face the problem of malnutrition and sometimes it gets worse in life threatening for the mother. He reinstated that even if a girl is married early, she should remain in her maternal house until she is 18 so that she develops a sound understanding of life.
Prabhuram Garasiya, an Advocate, stressed on the girl being 18 years of age and the boy 21years for marriage. According to the law it is a crime to indulge in or abet a child marriage and anyone found doing so shall be penalized with 1 lakh rupees and 1 year of jail. He further highlighted that if the children are not willing to marry, they can file a case against those forcing them into the marriage. The SDM or collector is supposed to take strict action in any such cases reported. Also, those who help to take action against child marriage are given protection under the law.