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Teens go on air against child marriage in Indian capital

25 November 2009

Ambika Pandit

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Teenagers from a resettlement colony in India’s national capital have scripted a radio programme to protest child marriages in their neighbourhood. These children are trained by Jagori and OneWorld South Asia to prepare audio and digital video films on social issues from their own communities.

New Delhi: Listen in when 14-year-old Rahul talks about the ills of child marriage and you’re bound to be taken by surprise. Far from ignorance and apathy, a group of confident teenagers from the Madanpur Khadar area is gearing up to go on air with a radio programme on the social custom that still plagues parts of the country.

Image credits: Times of India/ Rahul and Rama of Madanpur Khadar village at the recording studio in OneWorld South Asia

Times City caught up with these teenagers at the recording studio of NGO One World South Asia recently. As part of an initiative by NGO Jagori and OneWorld South Asia, the children are being trained to prepare radio programmes and digital video films on social issues from their own community and neighbourhood areas.

There’s pin-drop silence inside the studio and 15-year-old Geeta, a Class X student from Madanpur Khadar area, watches intently as the recorded script is edited. She has been closely involved with the scriptwriting.

Rama, also a Class X student from Khadar, delivers the dialogues assigned to her at just the right pace. Inarguably, though, the show stealer turns out to be Rahul with his ability to intelligently elaborate on the subject of child marriage along with its legal implications.

As the recording gets over, the uninhibited three step out to talk of their radio experience. Geeta points that at the Jagori centre in Khadar boys and girls get together and think of relevant issues that need awareness building and policy change.

The current issue was chosen as the group had heard of child marriages in Khadar.

Rama reveals that two of her friends roughly her age have already been married off and to prevent any speculation their parents insist that the girls are 18 years old.

Rahul is quick to add that a family in his neighbourhood quietly married their five-year-old son as part of tradition to a girl the same age. The girl lived with her parents and later died in a road accident.

“We want this to stop. To be married off at such a tender age is bad for both the girl and the boy. They will not be able to study or evolve after that,” says Rahul, who has already started picking up the technicalities of production.

While radio is exciting, Rahul dreams of nothing but cricket. On being asked if he would grow up to be a radio jockey, Rahul has a smart reply, “If I am a successful cricketer, I’ll be famous on radio and TV automatically.”

Geeta feels the radio experience has strengthened her desire to become a journalist. And if not that, she’d be a police woman so that she can punish all those indulging in eveteasing and harassment of women. She said she hates it when boys stare lecherously at girls in her locality.

Speaking on the radio programme, Geetha Bhardwaj from OneWorld South Asia said that the teenagers have been selected by Jagori. “The idea is to train and empower them through identifying local issues, carrying out interviews using cameras and recorders, script writing, editing and introducing them to production in the studio,” she said.

“These young boys and girls have done well and a radio show on safety in schools prepared by them was earlier aired on radio. Next Wednesday, this one on child marriage will be broadcasted on AIR FM Rainbow which has a fixed slot for programmes on social issues put forth by the community members at the grassroots whether it is children, youth or women,” she added.

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