Poonam attended a government school in India until seventh grade. This was when her parents pulled her out of school despite her protests, so that she could work to support her family’s increasing household expenses. At just 17, her parents then made arrangements for her to marry a local boy.
Child marriage puts an end to childhood. It impacts young girls’ right to education and puts them at risk of violence, exploitation and abuse. Girls who are married as children are less likely to be in school and they struggle to earn money and contribute to the community. They are also more likely to have children while they are still children themselves and are more at risk of dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
It is estimated that 1.5 million girls under 18 get married in India each year, making it home to the largest number of child brides in the world. Dalit children, like Poonam, as members of the lowest caste in India are especially at risk of child marriage and face discrimination at almost every level.
Our programme in India looks to change this by creating protective environments for Dalit children in and surrounding Patna in Bihar State.
Children on the Edge works alongside local communities in some of the toughest places in the world to transform the lives of overlooked children by co-creating protective environments where they can safely live, play, learn and grow. To do this, we work closely with the people and places that have the most impact on the child: the family, classroom, community and society.
If families lack the resources to meet needs and solve problems, their children are pushed to the edge. They become poorly protected and are at risk of abuse, exploitation, exclusion and neglect, causing irreversible damage.