Andhra Pradesh

‘Poor implementation of laws fuelling child marriage cases in Anantapur’

Data related to child marriages compiled by ‘Chidline’ in Anantapur district from 2015 to March 2019.

Data related to child marriages compiled by ‘Chidline’ in Anantapur district from 2015 to March 2019.  

‘Childline’, NGOs can do little owing to lack of resources, says RDT director.

Dubbing child marriage as ‘the most organised form of child abuse’, Rayalaseema Development Trust (RDT) director Doreen Reddy has blamed lack of adequate ‘societal check’ and poor implementation of existing laws for the menace continuing unabated.

“There is little societal check as child marriage is yet to be considered as a taboo in the backward rural or urban pockets palgued with abject poverty. Poor economic conditions make the parents feel that girl children are burden. Fear of child abuse and lack of protection in single women families are driving many to marrying off their minor daughters,” Ms. Doreen Reddy explains.

Citing the example of Obuladevaracheruvu and Kadiri mandals in Anantapur district, she said many people there prefer to tie the knots of their children abject poverty. The intervention from ‘Childline’ has made a difference, but it is far from adequate to check the menace, she says, adding that a minor girl from one of those mandals whose marriage was thwarted less than a decade ago, is pursuing her MBBS degree now.

“If we can call them success stories, there are a number of girls and boys who were rescued from child labour or forced marriages. But, the desired change is nowhere to be seen. Two girls from Kadiri, who went to Kerala in 2013 along with their parents were found abandoned there. A proactive Child Welfare Committee in Kerala rang up the Praja Seva Samaj (PSS) in Kadiri and got the girls back to Andhra Pradesh. They are studying in high school now, thanks to the active support from the PSS, an NGO,” Ms. Doreen Reddy says.

She further says that ‘Childline’ which gets information through toll-free helpline - 1098, is primarily ‘toothless’ as it has to produce the victims before the Child Welfare Committee, which after counselling, hands them over them back to the parents or relative who are eager to perform the child marriage, she opines.

‘Endless suffering’

“Lack of stringent laws and infrastructure, the minor girls and boys suffer endlessly. The RDT extends support to some, its resources are not enough to take care of every case,” she observes.

Rural Development Trust, through its sister organisations Rayalaseema Development Trust and Woman Development Trust, as a nodal organisation, runs three subcenters in the district, aprt from two NGOs— Praja Seva Samaj in Kadiri and Human And Natural Resources Development Society in Gooty—which work for the cause. Of the total 620 reported cases of child marriages in 2017-18 fiscal, 516 were thwarted and 1,607 calls were made to the ‘Childline’.

“In majority of these cases, the parents and relatives, after a while, surreptitiously solemnise the marriage at a distant place such as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,” says Srinivas Naidu of the PSS.

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An earlier version of this copy referred to Doreen Reddy as 'he'. The error is regretted.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 8:51:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/poor-implementation-of-laws-fuelling-child-marriage-cases-in-anantapur/article27528130.ece

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