Child marriage is the biggest malediction a state can have, and, unfortunately, Jharkhand tops in it. According to the data from the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA), “Jharkhand has been among the top three states of the country, where the practice of child marriage is the highest – and the average cases have never gone below 50% in the past 10 years.”
Furthermore, several reports have found that the percentage of child marriages in Jharkhand is much higher than the national average of 47%. At 49%, it has the highest proportion of married girls aged 15-19 years. 63% of girls were married before the legal age, i.e 18.
In my opinion, the common notion that females are inferior to men is the major reason for child marriages. In Jharkhand, poverty, lack of education and cultural practices are also the factors responsible for child marriages. The increasing rate of child marriage subsequently results in the expansion of teenage pregnancy. The state recorded girls of age between 15 and 19 years experiencing motherhood. Early marriages curb the growth of girls, they are unable to mentally and physically handle the pressure of marriage and as a result, they experience malnutrition and various health issues.
To curb this menace, chief minister of Jharkhand, Raghubar Das, released ‘The Jharkhand State Action Plan’ and ‘Mantri Sukanya Yojana’, which aims to support the education of girls and end child marriage in Jharkhand. But, the objective of the government can only be realised, when people are ready to change their mindsets and send their daughters to school rather than wedding pavilion.
We have some heroic hearts in our states, who have fought against their parents and relatives, to live a worthy life instead of being tied to a life initiated by child marriage.
One such example is of the fifteen-year-old Sarita and her 14-year-old friend Mali from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, who fought their parents to go to school and not get married. Jharkhand has many more courageous hearts, who have the passion to build and live their dreams, rather than living a life decided by someone else.
Another such girl is seventeen-year-old Kiran, who along with her friends, built a club, where young girls can share their thoughts and experiences, and engage with their peers, on issues they face individually or collectively, and receive training on how to tackle the same.
These steps by the government and the girls do stop child marriages to some extent, but still, Jharkhand needs a lot more consideration from its citizens to help its girls lives full of prosperity and dignity.