How an app saved a Bihar teenager from child marriage

The girl, who is only 13 years old, was being forced by her parents to marry a 15-year-old boy

A mobile app just saved a 13-year-old girl from Benipur, Bihar from falling prey to child marriage. The teenager sent an SOS message on the the app seeking assistance and thanks to timely intervention, was saved in time.

The app, Bandhan Tod, is funded and run by a Patna-based organisation Gender Alliance. The app which has the backing of the United Nations Population Fund, was launched in September, 2017. It seeks to act as a helpdesk and information source about rights when it comes to domestic violence, gender inequality, child marriage and dowry.

“In the last week of November, we received an SOS from a girl in Darbhanga through our app who informed us that her parents were forcing her to get married. After verifying the complaint through our civil society partners, we immediately reached out to the DGP in Patna, who then informed the local police authorities,” reveals an official of Gender Alliance (GA).

Credit: Indian Express / Representational image

The groom chosen for the teenager, was apparently only 15 years old himself.

The Android app which is in Hindi has an SOS button which turned out to be a godsend in this instance. According to the GA, a study of the 2011 census revealed that in Bihar, child marriage rate is at 39 per cent.

Also read: From fighting child marriages to making women self reliant: These seven young female activists are changing India

Anjani Kumar, who is the SDPO of Benipur, told PTI: “The moment we received instruction from Patna police headquarters (who had been approached by Bandhan Tod), we swung into action. We met the family members and convinced them against the idea of child marriage.”

Not only does the app offer help in distress, as an added incentive it also features study material from Bihar board, and offers a wallet balance of Rs 100 for downloading the app.

“It also has details about Prohibition of Child Marriage Act and various related schemes of the state government, like the Mukhayamantri Kanya Vivah Yojana,” says the official from GA.

Also read: Breaking age old norms, this village in Rajasthan has abolished child marriage

Gender Alliance is currently hoping for a tie-up with the government so that a larger number of people can be reached out.

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