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BIG FM & Saarthi Trust to spread awareness about child marriages

On the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, BIG FM, one of the largest radio networks in India, in association with renowned NGO Saarthi Trust announced a new initiative - #BIGLAADLI with the aim to spread awareness about the growing atrocities of child marriages in India. This auspicious day in the Hindu calendar sees a large number of children are married off in rural Rajasthan. With the intent to put a stop to this practice which has been continuing in the state year after year, the radio station created an on-air virtual drama which was rolled out in the morning band from 7 AM – 11 AM.

Broadcasted across Jodhpur, Kota, Bikaner, Udaipur and Ajmer, the impactful and unique drama featured characters who were the victims of this regressive act. In addition to this, RJ Rahul, from Jodhpur, along with other Rajasthan based RJs sparked strong conversations around child marriages in India, its adverse effects and how it has been ruining so many lives. The RJs spoke to parents of the bride and groom, who shared their reasons, pain, and fears in supporting child marriages. To add to that, local authorities and experts from Saarthi Trust shared their challenges and experiences in rescuing these kids to the listeners.

Commenting on the initiative, a BIG FM spokesperson said, “According to the data by Annual Health Survey for 2012-13, over 14 percent of girls were married while they were still below the legal age of 18 in the state. It is sad to see such practices prevailing in the country despite legislation and universal condemnation. Most of the times, parents of a child entering into a child marriage are often poor and are scared of the societal pressure of being discarded and are thus not in a position to raise their voice against the practice. We are glad to be associated with the Saarthi Trust that has been doing phenomenal work in this area. I hope through this initiative, we educate more and more listeners about child marriage and its long term consequences for child brides and grooms.”

Commenting on the association, Dr. Kriti Bharti, Managing Trustee Sarthi Trust (NGO) stated, “We have been talking about the eradication of child marriages for the past 90 years, but we still witness the custom being prevalent. This clearly indicates that we have to change the manner in which we tackle this task at hand, as the current approach is not yielding expected results. We wanted to tap into and reach the root level where this exploitation is taking place. In order for us to take this idea forward, and bring a difference in thousands of lives, we joined hands with BIG FM. The achievement of this campaign was recorded in various ways, but we realized the initiative's true potential when we received real cases which couldn’t have been possible if we hadn’t reached out. The viability and success of the campaign was such that it has given motivation to other victims to overcome this social evil.”

The initiative was amplified on-ground as well as across digital platforms through special characters and videos. The radio station along with the Saarthi Trust, that has successfully annulled 39 child marriages and stopped more than 1200 marriages, are looking forward to bring about a change in the perspective towards child marriage, and in creating a better society to live in. The trust has also been credited with rehabilitating more than 6,000 children and 5,500 women.

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