Sporting a white bindi might make for a style statement but the quirky trend is now being used to speak up against the practice of child marriages.
To mobilise public opinion against child marriages, an NGO today kickstarted a "No Child Brides" campaign here by unveiling an interactive art installation fashioned out of thousands of white bindis.
The artwork comprises a portrait of a 15-year-old girl from Jharkhand, decorated with a total of 39,000 binds - to match the reported number of child marriages taking place daily across the world.
"A red bindi worn mostly by married women, connotes love and prosperity and also bindis are believed to protect a woman from anything evil. While coloured bindis have seeped into popular culture but no one wears a white bindi. So we thought of using the white bindi as a symbol of protest against child marriage," says Prakhar Jain, who conceptualised the project.
Jain, along with friends Sumit and Nikhil, travelled to Jharkhand and Haryana to research and photograph child brides and over a period of six months came up with the installation for Child Survival India, an NGO which works towards reducing child marriages in India.
"Each bindi has been crowd-sourced. We hit upon this idea because the topic of child marriages is quite heavy and not easy to broach. We had numerous programmes though ground activations, Facebook pages etc where we talked about the issue and sold the bindis to generate funds," says Jain
Jain says he waited till 39,000 binds were sold to unveil the installation.
Reportedly, India is home to 40 per cent of the total child brides in the world. In September 2013, UN Human Rights Council brought the first ever global resolution on the child marriage problem and stressed on making it an international development agenda post 2015.
Although the resolution was supported by 107 countries, including almost all the countries with high rates of underage marriage, India did not co-sponsor it.
"We want to change this apathy of government and policymakers. The campaign aims to involve people through art and fashion and give us a platform to help out the children in the areas where the problem exists," says Deepa Bajaj of Child Survival India.