In Rajasthan, which is rooted deep in traditions and cultural values, some orthodox practices like child marriage still prevail. Under the ‘Sajha Abhiyan’ banner of the Rajasthan Government, a district-level campaign was flagged off in Dausa, with the help of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday. This campaign will focus on complete elimination of child marriages in Rajasthan.
The rate of child marriage continues to be much higher in the state than the national average. According to the Annual Health Survey in 2011, one in every four girls in Rajasthan is married before the age of 18. There are more than 20 districts in the state where over 32 per cent of marriages are child marriages.
To make it a child marriage-free state, Rajasthan government with the support of UNFPA and UNICEF, has taken a step in developing a comprehensive strategy and action plan for banishing marriages of minor boys and girls.
‘Sajha Abhiyan’ was started on July 18 to aware the public on a united platform in order to work towards making the state child marriage-free. Multiple stakeholders, interventions and sectors are coming together to address the issue as a unified force. Rajasthan’s Women and Child Development Minister, Anita Bhadel flagged off the Abhiyan Yatra. Commissioner, Women Empowerment, Richa Khoda, said the Baal Vivah-Mukt Rajasthan Rath, will cover over 50 village panchayats in the district during the next 25 days to generate awareness among the rural population.
At the panchayat level, the administrative officers, elected representatives and others will take a pledge in accord with the Yatra’s objectives. On a larger level, rallies will be organised by the school children along with the street plays. This will be followed by a drive to obtain signatures from people to abstain from child marriage, singing of the Abhiyan song, exhibition of a short documentary film.
The objective of the Yatra is to aware the masses in rural areas ill effects and harmful consequences of child marriage and convince them to take steps to nullify it if they have taken place in their families and neighborhood.
Starting from Dausa, the state government aims to take this initiative further by targeting more districts.