Indian Salesian: A "Children's parliament" to avoid the phenomenon of child brides
Today we celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child. According to UNICEF, 700 million girls are married in childhood. Another report said that every seven seconds a minor is forced to marry a much older man. "Betting on education. Forming children aware of their rights ".
Rome (AsiaNews) - To avoid "the phenomenon of child brides, we need to focus on education. But not only the so-called formal education, but also what we call non-formal. Ethical values, moral principles need to be transmitted to children, to strengthen the awareness of their rights ", says M C George Menamparampil, former national coordinator of the school Don Bosco in India, who is currently in Rome at the headquarters of the Salesians to coordinate fundraising activities.
According to the priest, who continues to save hundreds of girls in India destined to early marriage and domestic slavery, alongside conventional forms of education, "you may develop alternative methods that involve children directly. For example, Don Bosco schools gave life to the 'Local Children’s Parliament’ project, an initiative with which educators are creating citizens more aware of their rights. "
The priest spoke on the phenomenon of child brides on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child being celebrated today. According to the "Every Last Girl" published by Save the Children because of this anniversary, every seven seconds a little girl under 15 years of age is forced to marry a man much older than her. The age is reduced to less than 10 years in countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, India and Somalia.
A recent survey carried out by UNICEF shows that the numbers of this phenomenon are even increasing and today 700 million women have married in childhood, by 2030 that will be 950 million.
According to Fr. Menamparampil, the project of the " Local Children’s Parliament’ " can be useful to prevent child marriage. "That's becausethe children gather in groups - he says - and discuss among themselves. It was during the discussions, which are guided by dedicated staff, family problems emerge, situations of abuse and exploitation. "
Minors aged 11 to 18 are divided into groups of 25-30 members, which faithfully reproduce the democratic functioning of the organ: They elect the prime minister, ministers and reflect on agendas. Once the Parliament "is thus formed, the children are guided in discussions about basic human rights, those of children and other special rights. Educators help them identify issues or social problems, violations of rights affecting their families in particular or society as a whole. "
This type of program, emphasizes Fr. Menamparampil, "intervenes before marriages are celebrated, because later it is more difficult to act. Girls learn to be aware of themselves, what they want to do in life, the fact that they are free to marry whomever they wish. " If families are opposed to free will of youth, educators cannot but denounce these abuses to the police. "At that point - he concludes - is up to the police to enforce the law."