In one of OSF’s intervention villages at Koraput in Odisha, a family was preparing for marriage of their son. The boy was aged below 18 years and illiterate. His to-be life partner was from an adjoining village; her age was around 16 years and she was illiterate as well. Almost 70% arrangements were completed for the marriage.
But the decision taken by the village leaders who attended a gender program organized by OSF played a major role in thwarting this child marriage. They conveyed that it was unlawful to proceed with wedding. The boy and his family understood and the marriage was indefinitely postponed. It was decided that, the wedding could be solemnized after they reach the marriageable age. The decision was communicated to the bride’s house and the program was cancelled on mutual understanding.
When we involve in community work, such avoidable social issues come to our attention. The tribal communities face a lot of problems, like poor health conditions, dropouts from school and low socio-economic status due to child marriages. Many don’t aspire to get to higer studies and they are unable to intellectually contribute to the community development.
OSF started this intervention in March 2021 with a workshop for the village leaders to discuss the issue of early marriage. This was the first program for the area and for the communities. In the workshop there was a free and fair exchange on the topic and we conveyed the government guidelines for marriage age and the negative social impact for their communities. The leaders sensed the gravity of the issue and promised to align to the age guidelines
Further, the particpant leaders conducted meetings on this topic in their respective villages. They advised the families to follow Govt directions and not to encourage marriage proposal involving under-aged children.