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Bandhan Tod : The Latest Mobile App to End Child Marriage in India’s Bihar

Despite a law banning girls from marrying before they turn 18, the practice is deeply rooted in tradition and widely accepted in Indian society.

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Child marriage
Child bride Krishna, 12, stands at a doorway into her compound in a village near Baran, in India's Rajasthan state. Despite a law banning girls from marrying before they turn 18, the practice is deeply rooted in tradition and widely accepted in Indian society. (VOA)

Bihar, September 20, 2017 : A mobile phone app is the latest tool for campaigners seeking to end child marriage in India’s Bihar state, where nearly two-thirds of girls in some of its rural areas are married before the legal age of 18.

The app, Bandhan Tod, was developed by Gender Alliance — a collective of more than 270 charities in Bihar focused on gender rights — and launched this week by Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi. It is backed by the U.N. Population Fund.

India ranks among countries with the highest rates of child marriage in the world, accounting for a third of the global total of more than 700 million women, according to UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency.

Bandhan Tod — meaning “break the binds” — includes classes on child marriage and dowries and their ill effects. It also has an SOS button that notifies the team when activated.

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“The app is a big part of our efforts to end child marriage in the state,” said Prashanti Tiwary, head of Gender Alliance.

“Education is good, but when a young girl wants help because she is being forced to marry before the legal age, the app can be her way out,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Despite a law banning girls from marrying before they turn 18, the practice is deeply rooted in tradition and widely accepted in Indian society. It is rarely reported as a crime and officials are often reluctant to prosecute offenders.

While boys also marry before the legal age of 21, girls are disproportionately affected.

Risks of abuse, death rise

Early marriage makes it more likely that girls will drop out of school, and campaigners say it also increases risks of sexual violence, domestic abuse and death in childbirth.

Legal efforts have failed to break the stranglehold of tradition and culture that continues to support child marriage, charity ActionAid India said in a report this year.

When the SOS on Bandhan Tod is activated, the nearest small NGO will attempt to resolve the issue. If the family resists, then the police will be notified, said Tiwary.

A similar app in West Bengal state to report child marriage and trafficking of women and children has helped prevent several such instances, according to Child in Need Institute, which launched the app in 2015.

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Other efforts include a cash incentive, where the state transfers a sum of money to the girl’s bank account if she remains in school and unwed at age 18.

Suppliers of wedding tents in Rajasthan state have stopped dozens of child marriages by alerting officials.

“It will take a change in mindset and behavior to end child marriage,” said Tiwary, who is lobbying the government to raise the marriage age for women to 21, so they have the same opportunities as men.

“But technology provides a practical and accessible way to help prevent it on the ground,” she said. (VOA)

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Being a Part of UNICEF as Goodwill Ambassador is a Lifetime Privilege, Says Priyanka Chopra Jonas

Priyanka even took to Instagram to share what the award means to her

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Priyanka
On the film front, Priyanka was recently seen in the Hindi film "The Sky is Pink". She is currently shooting for Netflix's "The White Tiger" along with RajKummar Rao. IANS

Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas was honoured with the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award for her philanthropic work as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Child Rights.

She was felicitated with the award at the 15th annual UNICEF Snowflake Ball on Wednesday here.

Priyanka even took to Instagram to share what the award means to her.

“I am in awe of the tireless efforts and unwavering commitment of the people who work for #UNICEF. Thank you for allowing me to be part of this journey. To serve as your Goodwill Ambassador is the privilege of my life.

“Special thank you to Geetanjali Master, UNICEF India, Marissa Buckanoff, my UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Chief, Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, Caryl Stern, UNICEF USA President and CEI, and Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director | #UNICEFSnowflake Thank you to my team for your constant support,” she wrote.

Priyanka
Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas was honoured with the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award for her philanthropic work as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Child Rights. Wikimedia Commons

Congratulating his wife, Nick Jonas said that he is proud of her.

“I am proud of who you are and the good you’ve brought into the world as a goodwill ambassador with @unicef @unicefindia for over 15 years now. You inspire me every single day by just being you. Congratulations my love,” Nick wrote.

ALSO READ: Bhumi Pedneker Calls Herself a “Restless Actor”

On the film front, Priyanka was recently seen in the Hindi film “The Sky is Pink”. She is currently shooting for Netflix’s “The White Tiger” along with RajKummar Rao. (IANS)