Parents who want to enrol their children under the Bhagyalakshmi insurance scheme, meant exclusively for girls from below the poverty line (BPL) families, will henceforth have to furnish certificate of marriage along with the application form.
A gazette notification issued by the State government on May 22 states that this is now a mandatory document to avail of the scheme. This condition will be applicable only to new enrolments with effect from April 1, 2014, and not to old ones.
The decision is in accordance with the Karnataka Legislative Committee’s 40th report, which recommended making registration of marriages mandatory while applying for the scheme, said Amita Prasad, Principal Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development.
Ms. Prasad said the idea behind making marriage certificates mandatory was protecting women by giving her legal right through registration of marriage. “It is felt that this will minimise desertion, second marriage and also give the right to women to go to court in case of any problem in marriage,” she said.
She said that marriage registration should not be considered as a hindrance as it provides legal sanctity. “Our country also needs to move from ignorance of law to protection by law,” she said.
Child rights activists, however, feel that such a move could potentially deprive a section of women and children who are in dire need of a special scheme such as this. “What if the girl child is of a single mother or a sex worker or a woman who has been deserted?
Vulnerable sections such as these will be out of the ambit of the scheme if marriage certificate is made mandatory,” feared Vasudev Sharma, who heads Child Rights Trust, a non-governmental organisation working in the State.
The Bhagyalakshmi scheme was introduced by the BJP-JDS coalition government in 2006 with the aim of improving sex ratio, eliminating gender bias and ensuring education at least up to first year pre-university for girl children from BPL families.