Bihar campaigns against child marriage, dowry; plans human chain

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Patna, Oct 2 (IANS) A massive campaign against child marriage and dowry was launched in Bihar on Monday with the state government all set to organise a human chain against child marriage and dowry on January 21 next year.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar launched the statewide campaign at the newly built Bapu Sabhagaar here on the sidelines of Mahatma Gandhi’s 148th birth anniversary celebrations.

He administered oath to over 5,000 people, including Ministers, MPs, MLAs, government officials and others, to fight against child marriage and dowry.

“It is only a beginning to fight against child marriage and dowry in the state. We would involve people, government officials, including police, teachers, over half a million women self-help groups, civil society organisations, to intensify the campaign to ensure child marriage and dowry free Bihar in coming years,” Nitish said.

After forming the world’s largest human chain in support of prohibition and de-addiction in the state in January this year, he said “we will form a human chain against child marriage and dowry in Bihar in January next year”.

Kumar recalled that when Bihar formed a human chain in support of prohibition and de-addiction, it was a rare move.

“Bihar will now set another example by forming human chain against child marriage and dowry. It will inspire other states in the country to follow us,” said Kumar.

“We had initiated several measures for women empowerment in Bihar, including 50 per cent reservation to women in panchayat polls, bicycle and uniform schemes for girl students, 35 per cent reservation for women in police constable job followed by 35 per cent reservation in all government jobs.”

The Chief Minister said that a campaign against child marriage and dowry is part of his resolve to eradicate both social evils in Bihar.

“I strongly believe that numbers of child marriage and dowry cases would be reduced in the next one year in the state with the active support of people, government officials including police, more than six lakh Self Help Groups, civil society organisations. It will certainly change the face of Bihar in the coming years.”

Kumar said the fight against child marriage and dowry are part of social campaign and has nothing to do with politics.

“Opposition should extend support to it. People’s help and support to this campaign will result into its success,” he added.

Kumar also appealed to the people not to attend child marriage functions and boycott the marriage of dowry takers to give a strong message in the society.

“It is the best way to isolate such people who will violate child marriage and dowry acts,” he said.

Child marriage is rampant in Bihar, particularly in the rural areas, despite laws against it. At present, the incidents of child marriage is 39.1 per cent in the state.

Until a few years ago, Bihar accounted for 69 per cent of child marriages of total marriages. But the latest National Family Health Survey-4 revealed that the figure has declined in the last 10 years due to increase of education among girls.

According to a state government press release, the Women Development Corporation has along with the Social Welfare Department prepared a road map for the next six months for the campaign.

The government will advertise on large scale in local newspapers to create awareness among the people.

“The government will use social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter for exchange of information with people on this campaign. It will send SMS and will use WhatsApp to create awareness,” the release added.

–IANS

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