With the help of The Social Service Centre in Eluru which is a CHILDLINE service provider (hereafter referred to as CHILDLINE), Operation Red Alert has successfully saved a 12-year-old girl from entering a forced child marriage scheduled to occur on 20 April 2016, in a small village called Racharla, Pentapadu Mandal, Alampuram in Andhra Pradesh.
During a recent visit to the girl’s village as part of our Safe Villages Program, Operation Red Alert field workers were approached by the young girl who asked for help to have her marriage stopped. She explained that despite being a minor her parents arranged for her to marry a much older man without her consent. Our on the ground team explained how we would be able to help and called CHILDLINE Eluru for extra support.
Through extensive community consultation the CHILDLINE team were able to reach a signed agreement between the parents, Sarpanch and a teacher from the local school promising to protect the girl from forced married now and in the future.
Unfortunately, forced child marriages are all too common in India, particularly in small and remote villages and sadly many young girls do not have the recourse to have these marriages stopped. According to the National Family Health Survey III – NFHS, nearly 45 percent of girls in India will marry before their 18th birthday. This is why CHILDLINE and Operation Red Alert work so hard to bring support and education to communities across India.
We’re extremely excited to see that our programs are having such an immediate and real affect on the communities that we visit. The Safe Village Program is the result of 18 months intensive research and planning and aims to help people of all literacy levels learn about how to protect themselves and others against sex trafficking and domestic violence.
During this visit, our team spent two days with the community taking them through a series of fun and interactive workshops targeting all members of the community. They included sessions such as, movie screenings, school programs, village elders and leaders meetings, and fathers and mothers meetings just to name a few.
The focus of the sessions are not to dictate classic do’s and don’t, but to open up a dialogue about how to speak about tough issues like domestic violence, sex trafficking and in this case forced child marriage.
If you or someone you know needs help or protection, please call CHILDLINE on 1098 or Operation Red Alert on 1800 419 8588.