Rajasthan, India - Ragini learned of a 14-year-old girl in her community who was to be married to a 40-year-old man. She immediately sprang into action to prevent this from happening.
But she had to be careful as her family could have faced repercussions. “My mother said we cannot raise our voice against it because it will become difficult for us to live with the community if we do so.”
Undeterred, Ragini reached out to her school for help, who in turn alerted the relevant authorities through the Child Helpline. Officials from the Child Helpline, including the police, were able to intervene just in time to stop the child marriage. They handled the situation in a sensitive manner to ensure there were no repercussions.
“The girl told me she did not want to get married and wanted to study so I did whatever I could to help her,” says Ragini. “Now she is studying.”
Ragini is a volunteer with Naubat Baja, a mobile-phone edutainment channel launched by UNFPA in partnership with the Government of India’s Rajasthan state to address issues of adolescents’ wellbeing, empowerment and health. The initiative also seeks to address gender-based violence and harmful practices such as child marriage and gender discrimination. It does so by leveraging the rapid proliferation of mobile phones, especially among young people, in media-dark areas of Rajasthan where access to traditional radio, television, cable connection and the Internet is limited.
By dialing a local number, users get a callback with a 15-minute recording of free edutainment content. The recordings share information about government schemes, especially on adolescent reproductive health; stories about social issues interspersed with popular songs;, and inspiring stories of change agents describing their personal journeys overcoming harmful practices.
“The knowledge I have gained about pertinent social issues and the things I am now capable of are only because of Naubat Baja,” Ragini says.
The mobile radio channel has been extensively publicised and promoted in districts across Rajasthan where the incidence of child marriage remains high. In 2020, Naubat Baja received 164,456 calls from adolescents and young people across the state.
UNFPA India empowers adolescents with accurate, age-specific and culturally relevant information on sexual and reproductive health and rights issues; promotes healthy gender attitudes; and develops skills to enable young people to respond to real-life situations in positive and responsible ways.