Bal Panchayat’s Effort Foils Child Marriage of 15-Year-Old Girl

Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation

KSCF ‘s vision of transforming villages into Bal Mitra Grams (Child-friendly villages) is turning into reality. Empowered and sensitized about child rights, Bal Panchayat foils child marriage amidst the Anti-Child Marriage Campaign in the BMGs.

Duliakram is a follow-up BMG in Jharkhand’s Giridih district. Continuous efforts have been made to sensitize children and villagers about child rights by the BMG team through regular meetings, campaigns, capacity building workshops, etc., since the day the village was adopted under the BMG programme. Bal Panchayat elections happened and children were inculcated with democratic ideas and empowered to voice against different forms of exploitation prevalent in the society.

In March, a month-long campaign against child marriage was launched by KSCF in the BMGs of Jharkhand. The campaign was led by Bal Panchayats & different stakeholder groups in their respective BMGs. From marching in the entire village holding placards and shouting Anti-Child marriage slogans to signature campaign, no stones were left unturned to spread awareness against child marriage as March marks the beginning of the wedding season in India. Amidst the campaign the Bal Panchayat children of BMG Duliakram got information that Nikhat Parveen, a 15-year-old girl was to be married off, although she has not yet attained the legal age of marriage. The Bal Panchayat went to Nikhat’s house and tried to persuade the family to call off the marriage. Continuous efforts were put in to convince the family for a week but instead the situation worsened and the children were ill-treated by the family members of Nikhat.

When the Bal Panchayat realized that the situation needed interference from the BMG team, the BMG team along with Childline (1098) was apprised of the situation. KSCF & Childline went to Nikhat’s house and an inquiry was done by the officials of Childline & a report was submitted to the Block Development Officer (BDO) who is the nodal officer in cases of child marriage.

On the 24th of March, the BDO, Circle Officer (CO) & Officer-in-charge of Police station contacted KSCF’s District Coordinator of Giridih to accompany them to the girl’s house whose marriage was to be prevented from being solemnized as they believed that the villagers can only be persuaded with the help of the BMG team since they have been working actively in the area from a long period and have established a close rapport with the locals. Eventually, with the joint efforts of the BDO, Police & KSCF the child marriage of the 15-year-old was prevented by persuading the family. However, the Childline did not turn up at the spot anticipating the situation in the village. The BDO also issued a notice to the family that if in any case the marriage of the girl is performed before she attains the legal age of marriage, penal actions will be taken against the family member. The family called off the marriage and testified the necessary documents of the girl in KSCF’s office which was then forwarded to the BDO.

The efforts & courage of the Bal Panchayat and the BMG team was praised by the block administration. Further, the BDO ensured to work jointly with KSCF in protecting children from every form of exploitation and creating a child-friendly block.