Alwaye, now called Aluva, is a part of the city of Cochin (or Kochi), a port city and the most populous city in the state of Kerala. Around 3 million people live in the larger metropolitan area, located in the South West of India.Cochin is one of the fastest growing Indian cities, and very attractive for IT business. The state of Kerala, in which the city is located, has a Human Development Index (that is calculated on education, income and health) score of 0.79, the highest of all states in India. However, Cochin’s infrastructure struggles to keep up with the rapid growth and many people end up unemployed or living in slums. Children are also victims of child marriage.
Since 1990, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Alwaye-Cochin.
India has the highest number of child marriages in the world. This means 27% of women aged 20 to 24 were first married before they were 18 years old. Child marriage is a violation of the universal declaration of human rights, and the emotional damage a child suffers from a forced union is profound. There is also an increased risk of child pregnancies and domestic violence.
In Kerala specifically, 8% of girls were married as a child. The government must work hard to meet its national target to end child marriage by 2030.
Cochin is one of the fastest-growing cities in India, but the infrastructure has been unable to keep up with this development. There is a lack of affordable housing, adequate sanitation and safe drinking water.
In addition, the unemployment rate is high, 40% of young people aged 15 to 29 are unemployed. Often people who move to Cochin in search of a better life and job opportunities, end up in slums at the border of the city. Children are most vulnerable to the poverty in these slums, and to the lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. They often lack proper access to food.