By Anil Gulati
BHOPAL: A child from Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh sketches a painting of a couple being married yet crying !. In the sketch painted by the child these are not adults but children who are getting married. Child sketches the reason they are crying as they are losing their education, time to play and do not get to enjoy childhood.
Opinions of this child are echoed by child from Bhopal, Abhinav Bairagi who studies in class sixth Bhopal school, he questions ‘why children are forced to get married and they not only lose their education, but cannot do what they want to do in life, let not allow children to get married’.
Sunil Verma a student of another school of class 6th from Bhopal talks about need to stop child marriage in a poster designed by him. He adds that legal age of marriage for girls is 18 years and boys 21 years, as information to his peers and how child marriage impacts society. He illustrates ideas as how to stop child marriage. ‘There is need of a special campaign against child marriage; which can make people aware of impact of child marriage on child and gives ‘call’ people to inform police if they see any child marriage’.
‘Getting married at right age helps in emotional and mental development of children, better health and life’ adds Sonali Sahu a student of class sixth from Bhopal, in a poster designed by her.
These are few voices of children from the hundreds who are a part of school forums started by Child Rights Observatory, a child rights monitoring body in the State, working in partnership with UNICEF field office for Madhya Pradesh.
Majority of these kids feel that child marriages though have declined but still happen. They share in their write ups, paintings, and posters etc. that how child marriage does not give children their right to education, right to live and enjoy life. Bursting with ideas and keen to talk about issues like child labour, child marriage, these young people showed that they have the potential and are raising concern, sharing with their peers and speaking about the need to stop this child rights violation. Child rights Observatory plans to share the voices of these children with the decision makers like district collector, officials of women and child development department and media to help facilitate bring these concerns to the decision makers.
Child’s right to participation is part of The Convention on the Rights of the Child’, which spells out rights of each and every child. Article 12 of the convention says that children have ‘right to say what you think should happen, when adults are making decisions that affect you, and to have you opinions taken into account. Opportunities like where children voice their opinion are a step towards bridging the gap between the rights and realities of children. India had signed the convention in the year 1992.
Child marriage is a reality which still happens. As per District Level Household Survey III (year 2007-08) in Madhya Pradesh, around 29% girls and 40.5 % boys get married below the legal age of marriage. Madhya Pradesh is one of the top six states in India which have high incidence of child marriage and other five being Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand. Government of Madhya Pradesh has announced a special campaign to help prevent child marriages. (IPA Service)