The pandemic has caused unexpected damages to various aspects of human life. The pandemic could lead to an extra 13 million child marriages over the next decade. Other estimates suggest that four million girls are at risk of child marriage in the next two years. The pandemic of COVID-19 now threatens to erase this momentum as the world has been forced to cancel or postpone outdoor activities and events, schools were closed and people had to stay at home. This has led to an economical and social crisis which has added to the risks of child marriage. The impacts of COVID-19 are already being felt harder by women and girls in many areas of life due to gender inequalities, and we see this mirrored in sports. To tackle this issue, Aaina worked more intensely with the adolescent girls groups so that the message of adverse effect of early child marriage could be spread; this was continued through virtual platform even during the pandemic. With the Govt proposal of raising marriage age of girls it became pertinent for us to go for a consultation of young people in this regard as children have a say on matters impacting them. We took the feedback on the issue of the age of marriage clearly emerges only as a subset of this larger canvas as young people clearly do not think that the ‘quality of life’ is limited to marriage and parenting.
“Marriage is not everything” was a sentiment expressed by many of them, across states, categorically. The young girls and youth have spoken scathingly about how their personhood is denied, at every step of their lives, in every arena of their existence. They describe how they are governed by gender equations, expected to unquestioningly follow the diktats of the men, the elders and the powerful decision makers in their communities. They evidently expressed that Marriage age matters to them and they would like to take the decision about when to marry, whom to marry etc than again controlled by Govt rule!
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