Support Girls Fightling Against Early & Forced Marriage
Adolescent girls from disadvantaged communities in New Delhi are using technology as a tool to raise their voice against early and forced marriage. 31 girls associated with the Young Women's Leadership Program at Feminist Approach to Technology (FAT) made a film called "Todo Bandishen" (Break The Chains) in 2015, which shows their daily struggles in countering this social menace. They also made a photo book and a radio show on the issue along with multiple posters with slogans, a street play and a song. They are now using these tools to build awareness on the issue and garner support from their community members to fight it.
Although marriage of a girl below the age of 18 is illegal as per Indian law, the pressure to get married starts as soon as a girl hits puberty. Even in big cities like Delhi, the common perception is that girls are to be married as soon as possible so that her responsibility is transferred to another family. Families may not send off the girl till the age of 18 due to fear of legal action, but her education is discontinued, the focus is moved to her being trained as a wife and daughter-in-law, search for a groom begins, and in some cases, even a formal marriage as per local rituals is officiated by the age of 18. After reaching the age of 18, the pressure gets paramount. There is no space for a girl's choice on when and with whom she will get married.
As we work with adolescent girls and young women to build their leadership and agency under the Young Women's Leadership Program, the pressure to get married and be trained for marriage always comes as the biggest challenge against girls' rights. Hence, the girls from our program decided to start a campaign to change the perceptions around marriage within their family and community, and gain support for their rights. We started a project in January 2015 that supports our emerging level 2 leaders in designing and running a collective campaign against Early and Forced Marriage using photography, film making and radio as the tools to facilitate the campaign. The campaign started in September 2015 and has reached out to more than 2000 people within the communities that the girls live and outside. The girls plan to continue this campaign within their communities and include many more campaigners as they go forward.
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