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Football: an engagement away from child marriage

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Football: an engagement away from child marriage

A programme in north west India seizes the opportunities presented through football to provide girls with an alternative to child marriage.

Child marriage is a particular cause for concern in rural India. In the state of Bihar, North West India, over two thirds of girls aged 22-26 are married before 18, without the chance of receiving a formal education.

In the village of Mastichak, Bihar, football is providing girls with an alternative to child marriage and tackling the social norms. Mritunjay Tiwary, head of projects at the Akhand Jyoti Eye Hospital is the founder of the football and educational initiative. The basis for the initiative supported by ‘second sight’ and ‘Akhand Jyoti Eye Hospital’ is simple.

Mritunjay explains the simplicity of the initiative, “the trade-off on offer was simple… promise you won’t get your daughter married before she turns 21, allow her to play football, and in exchange we will pay for her school education, train her as a nurse and help her get a BSc in Ophthalmology

A young male student expresses his fascination, “A year ago, nobody would have dreamt something like this could happen. Just look at the way they run. The mere sight of these girls playing football goes a long way in creating an atmosphere of progress”.

One proud father discusses the importance of education, stating “It is important to give your daughters an education. I have six of them, and know I won’t have to pay big dowries because I’ve taught these girls to be self-sufficient” Additionally, a mother expressed her joy at the initiative, stating “I’m glad there are new opportunities for her. I got married at 15 and would hate it if she had to suffer a similar fate

Visit the outlookindia website for the full story on Mastichak's girls football

A World of Football’s latest video explores how football is tackling the issue of child marriage and promoting education in the rural state of Bihar, India. Watch the story of Sushma and her family to see how football has transformed their lives.

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Where next for AWOF
The AWOF team will be in Thailand for their next video, exploring the motivations behind creating a floating football pitch.

Child marriage breakthrough
Despite child marriages being illegal in India, they are still common in many rural and poor communities.

April 2012, marked a breakthrough as a teenager had her ‘marriage’ legally annulled in India. The young woman was reportedly married at the age of one. However, only found out when the in-laws came to claim her earlier this month. In India it is still common that the bride will live with the groom’s family.

In an effort to annul the marriage Laxmi, sought help from a local non-governmental organisation, Sarathi Trust. Kriti Bharti, a worker at Sarathi Trust stated that the young women “got depressed. She did not like the boy and was not ready to go ahead with her parents' decision”.

She went onto express the hope that this decision will inspire others suffering from childhood marriages, stating “It is the first example we know of a couple wed in childhood wanting the marriage to be annulled and we hope others take inspiration

According to UNICEF, approximately 40% of child marriages occur in India, although this number has fallen due to recent efforts to stop the practice.

Visit the BBC website for full article

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Article type

News

Author

Tom Vahid

Published

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - 23:00