“The pain of losing out on childhood cannot be perceived appropriately by external eyes but only the sufferers themselves can realise the severity of the pain. Specially, womanhood can wait for a while, for a few years may be, but childhood would very soon evaporate from life if not taken care of. This is why I feel it is essential to safeguard childhood in our country.” Soumitra Chatterjee, the veteran actor, said.
The he celebrated actor added that child marriage, as it is commonly termed, is an utterly horrifying concept. “We as actors have to travel a lot, even to remote villages to shoot and there, the sight of the youngest of the children being forced to marry each other is something we should be scared of. They get married at an age when they don’t have the slightest of knowledge about what marriage exactly refers to. They don’t get to understand that the concept of marriage involves huge responsibilities and marks the beginning of a new life. They even fail to experience the real taste of married life. However, the biggest irony is that they have to sacrifice their childhood and youth which is the prime time for the physical and mental growth of a human. This phase of growing up is literally snatched away from them which is very painful and is coupled with the curse of poverty. This according to me is a perennial problem of our country,” Chatterjee added.
He congratulated CRY for the initiative the ogranisation has taken to address child marriage and said that he would be happy to stand up for the cause.
He found an ally in Ms. Koneenika Banerjee, a very familiar face in the bengali film industry, who also raised her voice against child marriage. She shared that her maid became a grandmother by the age of forty, which is definitely not a healthy sign for society. “The day our society embraces gender equality, our male peers will acknowledge their own responsibilities in helping women progress and be openly involved and educated about women’s rights. I proudly support CRY’s campaign #Notyet, because Womanhood can wait, Childhood cannot. I would appeal to everyone to support this initiative wholeheartedly,” Koneenika said.
Trina Chakrabarti, Regional Director, CRY (East) said, “On Women’s Day, my wish for every woman is a life full of limitless opportunities for growth. This can happen only when we ensure that girls grow up with confidence and self-esteem and say #notyet to early marriage and when these girls become women, they will re define womanhood and break the stereotypical notions that surround it.’
In India, there are over 8.9 million girls who are married before they reach 18 years (Census 2011); thereby forcing these young girls to become women at an age when they are neither physically or emotionally ready. Child marriage is a practice that is still very much prevalent in this day and age. Unless the issue is brought under the spotlight, we will not be able to garner the support of the urban society and raise a collective voice against the malpractice that is ruining the childhood of millions of children. This International Women’s Day, let’s pledge #NotYet – simply because womanhood can wait but a childhood cannot.