Mumbai: India has long grappled with the problems of child marriage, and the pandemic has only made things worse.
With schools closing, deaths in the family, growing financial problems and a host of other pandemic-induced problems—the number of child marriages have steadily risen.
To raise awareness and create a community-based vigilance initiative, 82.5 Communications, has helped devise the #JustAChild campaign for Akshara Centre, a not-for-profit women’s organisation and resource centre working for the empowerment of women and girls. The Ministry of Women and Child Development and UNICEF have also lent their support to this initiative.
Posters, social media and digital creatives, video assets and more will be used to remind all Indians that girls under the age of 18 should be encouraged to further their education and not be married off. Calling 1098, the toll-free number, to report all suspected child marriages, will be the single call to action in the #JustAChild campaign. The campaign will be multilingual to generate greater reach and efficiency.
Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman and CCO, 82.5 Communications India, said: “With society struggling to come to grips with the pandemic, the escalating problem of child marriage has not got the urgent attention it deserves. It is our hope that this campaign will help raise awareness about it and stop these girls’ childhoods from coming to an untimely end”.
Mayur Varma, ECD and Creative Head – Mumbai & Kolkata, 82.5 Communications said: “What would have been a normal statement from an adult bride becomes totally inappropriate when uttered by a child bride. We hope our campaign based on this approach hits home and moves people to take action against child marriages”.
Nandita Shah, Co-Director of Akshara Centre and an active member in the Women’s Movement says, “The Covid 19 pandemic and lockdown has once again raised anew some of the issues facing women and girls. Last year, we were shocked to learn about the increase in domestic violence in the midst of the lockdown for which multiple awareness campaigns helped. There is another concern and that is the increasing number of child marriages during the pandemic. We hope that our public awareness campaign in collaboration with MWCD and UNICEF will urge citizens to work towards ending child marriage and addressing the issue.”