Speakers at a discussion on ‘Whether to legitimise child marriage’ here on Wednesday called for a sustained campaign to bring to public domain the ill-effects of allowing girls to marry at a young age and stressed the need for “physical” intervention by socially oriented organisations to prevent child marriage.

In her opening remarks, the former president of Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP) T. P Radhamoni said the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 treats marriage of young girls as a non-bailable and cognizable offence but still if incidents of child marriage take place, the reasons could be ascertained. The need of the hour was to strengthen implementation of the Act and also to make physical intervention by organisations to prevent such incidents.

The Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, which organised the discussion, in a survey found that women were aware of the Act. Some of the parents interviewed in the survey said they had married off their daughters at an early age as it would be difficult to find a suitable match at a later age.

They also cited the demand for dowry as one of the reasons.

Physical intervention, she explained, did not mean staging a protest before a hall where a child marriage was solemnised but informing the law enforcement agencies, including the police and also at the governmental level.

She called upon Parishad volunteers to create awareness oft the perils of child marriage.

Explaining about the health hazards of child marriage, Amar, a child specialist, said girls married at a young age suffer general, reproductive and mental health deterioration. Pregnancy poses many challenge to women and child marriage enhances health risk, he added.