This month the United Nations commemorated World Day of Social Justice on February 20th, 2020. At its core, World Day of Social Justice is “[promoting] gender equality, or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants… [Removing] barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture of disability.”
Love One More is not another social justice advocacy group, but an organization that is committed to loving one more child, and rewriting the history of children across India. Love One More doesn’t try to only fix the outward effects of poverty, but get to the root of it; Love One More holistically cares for children and gives back their childhood with food, clothing, education, health care, security, love, and hope.
Through Love One More’s Safe Spaces for Children Campaign, we have been working to create awareness and advocate against child marriages and sexual abuse against children. But in order to help, we must first understand what child marriage and sexual abuse against children entails and how the culture and law in India facilitates child marriage and sexual abuse.
Child Marriage and Sexual Abuse against Children
A total of 34 percent of girls in India are married before their 18th birthday, and many of them before their 15th birthday, according to the Girls Not Brides website. Child marriage is prevalent in poverty-stricken areas, as most families marry off their young girls to relieve an economic burden.
Culturally, daughters are seen as liabilities – the families must pay a hefty dowry for weddings, which presents a heavy strain. In a picture story published by National Geographic, author Nina Strochlic shares a mother’s response when asked why she is subjecting her daughter to be a child bride:
“The mother replied that she’d prefer not to, but there were few other options. Her husband was a day laborer and she and her children gathered and sold firewood. They lived day to day, so it was better to marry off their girls before outside forces intervened. ‘If we lose our house to floods tomorrow, we won’t have anything to give for our daughter’s wedding dowry,’ she said.”
When it comes to sexual abuse against children, the statistics are much worse. Save the Children reports that 53 percent of children in a government survey said they had been sexually abused. In the same article, sexual abuse is defined as rape, sexual games, exposure to pornography, touching a child inappropriately, and more.
The Indian government has taken action against child sexual abuse, but there is more work that needs to be done. According to a study titled “Child sexual abuse and the law in India: a commentary,” authors Jyoti Belur and Brijesh Bahadur Singh report,
“Until recently, [child sexual abuse] was not acknowledged as a criminal offence; rape was the main, if not the only, specific sexual offence against children recognised by law in India. In the absence of specific legislation, a range of offensive behaviours such as child sexual assault (not amounting to rape), harassment, and exploitation for pornography were never legally sanctioned.”
How Can You Help?
Organizations like Love One More have the ability to help spread awareness and educate children swiftly and efficiently. But we need your help and partnership!
You can make a difference by:
- Praying. We invite you to join others across the United States to pray specifically for our campaign efforts and for vulnerable children living in India who are not yet protected from exploitation.
- Spreading Awareness. Be an integral part of our campaign and help us build momentum by becoming and advocate! Follow God’s call to seek justice for the poor and afflicted by sharing our campaign with family, friends, your church and online!
- Donating. Bring lasting change to our Safe Spaces for Children campaign by donating. Every dollar used goes to bring even more education and awareness to remote villages in India.