Krishna District Women and Child Welfare Department Project Director Krishna Kumari on Thursday said the social menace of child marriages was a serious challenge and an effective action plan would be formulated to prevent them.
She was responding to disturbing statistics of child marriages in Krishna district, released as part of a study on ‘Causes and Consequences of Child Marriages in Krishna District’, compiled by city-based NGO Vasavya Mahila Mandali.
Ms. Krishna Kumari said the enormity of the issue would need concerted efforts and all allied departments such as Police, Revenue, Education and Endowments would be involved in the drive against child marriage. According to the report, Andhra Pradesh occupies third position along with Rajasthan by registering 55 p.c. of child marriages. Among southern States, the State tops the list with 49 p.c., followed by Karnataka (29.6 p.c.), Tamil Nadu (19.5 p.c.) and Kerala (11.8 p.c.)
Supported by Norway-based HAMU, the study covered Vambay Colony, an urban located slum and Kunderu village in Krishna district under rural community. The facts that the light of the day through this study include that more than half of the marriages of girl-child brides were performed at their home, leaving little scope for any kind of outside intervention or prevention. A vast majority lived in joint families after marriage on meagre income of their spouses. At least 86.6 pc of the child brides were in the 16-18 years age group while many revealed that their marriage was consanguineous and had an effect on the health of their children. Interestingly, more than half of these marriages had been registered with the authorities concerned raising doubts over credibility of marriage registration exercise since most of these girls were below 18 years at the time of their marriage. Participants drawn from a cross-section of society put forth a set of proposals for effective implementation of the anti-child marriage drive.
Awareness drives involving the community, strengthening of village child protection committees, proactive role by police and judiciary wings, inclusion of life skill education in academic curriculum, steps to ensure that children do not drop out of school before they are 18 and need to develop political will to prevent the social menace.