I’ve been volunteering over the summer at The Concerned for Working Children, a superb and quite radical NGO working with child workers (don’t call them ‘labourers’ - long story) in and around Bangalore, India.
Amongst other things (TBA!) I’ve been helping them launch a really great new website, writing and editing pages such as this one on child marriage.
Our approach is to empower children to make change in their own communities. Members of organisations facilitated by CWC for the empowerment of children have prevented many instances of child marriage in their villages through campaigning in their own villages.
In 2002, for example, members of Bhima Sangha (the union of working children facilitated by CWC) staged a protest in their village to help their friend Vedha, 11, from being pushed into an early marriage. Despite the opposition of their parents and neighbours, the children marched to the police station and demanded action to stop the illegal marriage. Policemen gave Vedha to the children for protection until after the wedding date, and she stayed with other members in their small training centre. Since Vedha’s case, many children have been saved from early marriage by activism by their Bhima Sangha friends.
Do take some time to look around the website - it contains some remarkable (and hopefully well-written!) stories of children taking action to empower themselves.