New Delhi. Feb.20: A National Consultation on Child Marriage Free India was organized by the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation at the Constitution Club of India in the national capital on Monday. Union Minister for Women and Child Development & Minority Affairs, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani was the Chief Guest at the event while Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi presided over the event.
Social evil like child marriage has been prevalent in our society for centuries. Serious discussions took place in the program regarding the steps to be taken to make India child marriage free. Chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and Chairpersons of State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) of 14 states and their representatives and more than 100 voluntary organizations took part in this Consultation. In this program, a special action plan was also made to stop child marriages in districts where it is most prevalent.
Shri Kailash Satyarthi had launched the Child Marriage Free India Campaign on 16th October last year, with the aim of eradicating Child Marriage in the country by 2030. It is the world’s largest grassroots movement against child marriage till date. The campaign was the result of the clarion call given by Shri Satyarthi to initiate collective action against the social evil of child marriage. The highlight of the launch of Child Marriage Free India Campaign was that it was led by more than 75,000 grass-root women leaders across 10,000 villages representing 26 States of the country. The goal of Child Marriage Free India Campaign is to reduce child marriages from 23.3% to 10% by the year 2025.
Extending Centre’s support to Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation’s Child Marriage Free India campaign, Union Minister Smriti Irani said, “Child marriage is a crime and we have to end it completely. We will make child marriage a history. We should aim to bring it down from 23 percent to zero percent. The government is committed to this.” Referring to the efforts of Shri Kailash Satyarthi in the fight against child marriage, she said, “He is a grassroots person. During Covid-19 Satyarthi ji worked closely with the government for the welfare of orphaned children. When the government was trying to search and rehabilitate such children, Kailash Satyarthi found many such children. Law is doing its job to stop child marriage, but people have to come along with the government for this. Men also have to be brought together in the fight against child marriage. To weed out social evil like child marriage from India, Government, all voluntary organizations and people have to work unitedly and cohesively. We have to create more people like Kailash Satyarthi so that we can speed up our efforts for eradication of this social evil.”
The program was inaugurated by lighting the lamp by girls running awareness campaign against child marriage themselves. These girls have not only stopped their own child marriage but also of others. Expressing happiness over this, Union Minister Smriti Irani further said that, “Usually a minister and Nobel Laureate would light the lamp and inaugurate the event. But here it is heartening to see the girls lighting the lamp themselves. This shows how serious Kailash Satyarthi is towards the children.”
On this occasion, appealing to the august gathering including Chairpersons and Members of Child Rights Protection Commissions from all over the country, and voluntary organizations, Kailash Satyarthi said, “Child marriage is a cruel attack on human freedom, dignity, social morality, equality and inclusiveness. We as a country need to take proactive steps to provide victims with financial assistance, legal support and rehabilitation. We demand from the government and all political parties to promote education of children, especially girls, by increasing the age limit of compulsory free education to 18 years.”
Kailash Satyarthi further added, “We consider child marriage as a social evil and legal crime. In the country there are more than 23 percent women of the age group 20 to 24 years who got married before the age of 18 years due to child marriages. We aim to reduce the same to 10 per cent by the year 2025 and to make India child marriage free by 2030.”