The practice of Child Marriage or Early Marriage in rural India is deeply rooted in cultural values and grounded in social structures. And despite laws that prohibit child marriage, the practice is still extremely prevalent in many regions. Though the statistics are contentious, it is estimated that in some parts of India, like the state of Rajasthan, nearly 80 percent of the marriages are among girls under the age of fifteen” (Gupta, 2005, p. 2). In India overall, roughly 47.6 percent of girls are married by the age of eighteen (The implications of early marriage, 2004).Child marriage or early marriage is identified as a marriage that takes place before “exact age 18”—a definition adhered to by UNICEF and other international organizations (Bruce, 2007). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right to “free and full” consent to a marriage, acknowledging that consent cannot be “free and full” when one of the individuals involved is not sufficiently mature to make an informed decision about a life partner (UNICEF, 2005). Hence, early marriage is considered a human rights issue. Nonetheless, in many developing countries, particularly in poorer rural areas, girls are often betrothed or committed to an arranged marriage without their knowledge or consent. Such an arrangement can occur as early as infancy. Parents see marriage as a cultural rite that provides protection for their daughter from sexual assault and offers the care of a male guardian (McIntyre, 2006). Many parents often feel that a young girl is an economic burden and therefore wish to marry off their young daughters before they become an economic liability (CGD, 2008; McIntyre, 2006).
IMPROVING REPRODUCTIVE AND SEXUAL HEALTH OF YOUNG PEOPLE BY INCREASING THE AGE AT MARRIAGE IN INDIA,NEPAL AND BANGLADESH
Considering above mentioned scenario, MAMTA HIMC launched the project Improving Reproductive and Sexual Health of Young People by Increasing the Age at Marriage in India, Nepal and Bangladesh with support from EU (European Union) in 2009, which is for five years in the target area. The website is an effort to keep an update on project progress and also to share information as a portal among project partners and youth for mutual learning. See more details in the intervention tab.
Babli: Babli is mascot of the project who asks questions from society being a young and empowered representative of youth and her image is present in all the messages.