Youth in Assam use Facebook & WhatsApp to fight against child marriages

How it started? At a time when cases of misuse of social networking sites are on the rise, a section of youths in Assam are using it as a tool to fight social evils like child marriage. For supporters of child marriages, some Facebook and WhatsApp groups have become a major threat.

“We are really happy to overcome a huge challenge by a section of villagers by motivating the youths with the help of Facebook and WhatsApp,” Ainuddin Ahmed, general secretary of AAMSU, told “I didn’t start it from the AAMSU platform, but as an individual experiencing the pathetic condition of society, especially among the uneducated and poor sections. But later, the youth in the students’ body supported me in a grand way. It was overwhelming.”

Besides members of AAMSU, there are others who are also in the groups to help curb the social crime, including different NGOs and police. “But I want more proactive participation from government agencies for better results,” said Ahmed.

Bumpy road

The road was not smooth for these youths. They had to face the wrath of some goons under whose patronage these underage marriages used to take place. Many activists were beaten up.

“When we tried to stop a child marriage, a mob from the groom’s family attacked me and my friend. They beat us up and held us captive till midnight. Finally, police, along with my friends, arrived and rescued us,” Ashraful told.

This is not a lone incident. Several activists of AAMSU faced similar situations in Kharupetia in Darrang district. They allege that on some occasions, assistance from the police is not up to the mark in dealing with these cases. “Unfortunately, in some areas, the police are yet to be active enough to deal with such situations. The change in police is necessary if we really want to eradicate this evil practice from our society,” Ainuddin reiterated.

Online motivation

But the Facebook page and the WhatsApp group keep them motivated and united to fight for the cause. “We keep track of what’s happening all around. If someone has a problem, he or she gets an immediate response from one of the groups to address that particular issue. That’s how it’s going on in a healthy way,” said Ainuddin.

These young activists and members of AAMSU have also organized awareness camps in different locations, and done it live on Facebook. On May 21, they organized an awareness meeting at Dabaka in Nagaon district, where people from different walks of life were invited, and the entire proceedings were live on Facebook.

“We got huge response from this awareness camp. We got calls from different parts of the state, and gradually we will also conduct such events in all nooks and corners of the state,” says Mustak, a local AAMSU leader and admin of the WhatsApp group.

Since February this year, these youths have managed to stop more than 250 such child marriages directly and counseled the parents.


Source: The Better India

Photograph: © Unsplash

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