Around 100,000 people live in the city of Nagapattinam, which is located in the state of Tamil Nadu in South East India. The main economic sector in the region is fishing. Sadly, the region is very prone to cyclones and other natural disasters, and was devastated by the tsunami of 2004.
Furthermore, gender inequality is an issue. Many girls are still forced into marriage before the age of 18, and literacy rates in the Nagapattinam district speak for themselves: the literacy rate for men is 89%, while the literacy rate for women is 77%. Offering equal opportunities to children needs to become a priority.
SOS Children’s Villages began supporting children and families in Nagapattinam in 2007.
India has one of the highest number of child marriages in the world. This means a harrowing 27% of women aged 20 to 24 were first married before 18.
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 Tamil Nadu specifically, 16% of girls were married as a child. Child marriages are common due to gender inequality and the patriarchal social norms in India. The national target to end child marriage by 2030 will require a major push from the government.
The state of Tamil Nadu, and especially Nagapattinam, was devastated by the tsunami of 2004. In the city alone, around 6000 people lost their lives. Not only did it destroy lives, families, and houses; it also had a massive impact on the fishing sector and its infrastructure, leaving many people without any income. With help from the government, the city was equipped with better roads and facilities, like tsunami-proof houses.
On average, 3 tropical cyclones make landfall in India each year, and in 2018, disaster struck again in Nagapattinam, with cyclone Gaja, leaving a trace of destruction. Children are most vulnerable to these natural disasters, losing their homes and families.