To get people’s attention on the issue of rising child marriages during the pandemic, Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ IMAGE* project displayed wall paintings in villages in Karnataka, India.
These villages are known for their high incidence of child marriages, where girls as young as 14 tie the knot and their education and dreams come to a standstill which makes way for a life of exploitation. The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown only worsened the situation.
The wall paintings are spread across a portion of a public wall with messages in the local language, Kannada. The paintings speak about laws and acts against child marriage, slogans on child rights, and a child marriage free society. A Childline number is also mentioned along with a local helpline in case anyone requires support.
These paintings are positioned at the most prominent places in the village as well as close to nearby villages to reach more people.
The motive of these paintings is to sensitise the community on the ill effects of child marriage and the legal implications of it, along with offering support. Child Rights and Child Protection laws were emphasised to motivate children to address the issue in spite of the pandemic situation.
Savitri, a class 9 student from the district of Bagalkot says, “I was able to stop a child marriage in my village after reading this painting. The painting on the wall encouraged me to exercise my rights as a child. I used the helpline number mentioned to report the incident.”
Not just children, but older community members are also being influenced by these paintings.
Ms. Deepa Jyothi, a parent of a young girl, says, “My daughter asked me to go read the painting on the village wall. By reading the painting, I realised that child marriages are not good for girls. Next time I see any incident, I will report it.”