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A 2013 report identified West Bengal as one of four Indian states where the practice of child marriage was most prevalent, but a new initiative has found a creative way to mitigate the problem. The Security For Girls Through Land Project operated by the Landesa Rural Development Institute has been teaching girls in the state about their land rights and how to create valuable assets through the use of land — such as farming produce, which can serve as sustenance and a means to generate income. The thinking behind the initiative is that if girls are empowered to be independent and enterprising, they’ll be less susceptible to practices like child marriage and less vulnerable to sex trafficking, another common problem in the region. More than 40,000 girls have taken part in the initiative, which was featured in a documentary screened at the Sundance Film Festival, and participants have shown a tendency to stay in school and are finding improved support from their parents, project leaders say. “Changing how people think can be slippery,” Landesa’s Melany Grout reportedly said. “But I’ve seen parents go from claiming ‘My daughter is worthless’ to pledging to keep her in school.”
Read the full story at The Huffington Post.