Visit to Chamrajnagar – an eye opener


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On March 10th, 2011, Vyjayanti and I had travelled to Chamrajnagar district which is about 185 kms from Bangalore. Our intention in travelling there was to address 50 college girls about possibilities of starting a YFS chapter in Chamrajnagar and conduct our regular session on Menstrual Hygiene. However, the things we discovered while interacting with the girls there certainly was an eye opener, and I’d like to share this with you all 🙂..

To consider starting a YFS chapter in Chamrajnagar, Vyjayanti and I asked the girls to list out problems that are typical to Chamrajnagar and see how we can handle those problems. Among the various issues pointed out by the girls, three issues really got our attention –

1. Child Marriage


3. Lack of good hospitals/doctors


Child Marriage – Being a district headquarters, Chamrajnagar is reasonably developed and some of the roads and bunglows make you feel that you’re in a posh locality in Mysore! And then to hear the girls tell us that parents getting young girls – some even before they attain puberty – married off, is very common in Chamrajnagar, came as a real shocker.

And when I asked them how prevalent is this issue, one of the students said “I am a perfect victim of child marriage. I am not yet 18, and my marriage is already fixed. My parents simply don’t trust that I will not run away with some man and get pregnant like my 13 year old neighbour!” While I digested these facts, and suggested that the students form a group and go speak to the “victim’s” parents about delaying her marriage, I got another interesting answer from her friend.

I was told that the fault is not really that of parents since they are simply panicking seeing the situation around them. Apparantly, a lot of teenage girls in Chamrajnagar end up getting pregnant at the age of 13 even, and this is the reason why young girls are being forced into marriage before they turn 18. That’s when I made up my mind to include a talk on pregnancy along with Menstrual Hygiene, thinking that these young girls may not be aware of things and thats why they end up pregnant.

Interesting part, however, is that after my big talk, one girl told me that the reason teenage pregnancies are happening is not because they lack sex education, but because they KNOW about pills and other contraceptives which they assume will prevent pregnancy!! Now, I really didn’t know what to say next……I am still searching for an answer!

I suppose we need to go back there and talk to the teenagers who have been or are pregnant and understand what really is going on. The rebelliousness among the girls, the anger in the way they spoke, makes me feel that there is something going on there which I’m not yet able to put a name to. And unless we get to the root of the problem, I dont’ think we can make any real change by just giving talks.


HIV/AIDS – One of the girls mentioned that Chamrajanagar is suddenly drawing a lot of attention for the number of HIV cases increasing there. Later, Vyjayanti told me that being a border area with Tamil Nadu, a lot of lorry drivers pass that way, and that must be the reason for the HIV/AIDS prevalence. Anyway, this information meant that we add another topic to our Menstrual Hygiene and Pregnancy talk – that of HIV/AIDS.

It was a very useful session since the girls had a lot of doubts and questions, and Vyjayanti and I realized that we were probably the only access they had to find these answers. And even our regular talk on Menstrual Hygiene got so many unexpected questions ranging from “Why should we use pads since it is a Videshi product?” and “Doesn’t disposing pads cause Shaapa?” !!


We are glad that we made this trip – learning for them and for us.

But it doesn’t end here; we will go back. We are planning to organize a medical camp there since lack of good hospitals was another major problem mentioned by the girls. Lets hope some hospital/doctors in Chamrajanagar come forward for the camp. Any help in this direction from you all will be really good.

While I shall keep you all informed about our next visit/plan for Chamrajnagar, I invite you to let us know your views on what happened and how you think we can handle such issues.