Officials of the Department of Women and Child Development prevented as many as 10 child marriages in villages around Gurmitkal town in April. This is a significant number considering that the total number of such marriages prevented between 2010 and March 2016 is 53.
While the backward Yadgir district has always seen a high number of child marriages, the prevailing drought situation seems to be pushing more people into getting their daughters married before they turn 18. This is particularly so in areas such as Gurmitkal, which are seeing very high rate of distress migration.
A parent, who did not wish to be named, said that many preferred to get their daughters married before they migrate to big cities in search of jobs to be assured of the girls’ “safety” back home. He said many preferred mass marriages to reduce the financial burden. “People give consent to hold marriages even when they are aware it is against law, since they see it as way of reducing their financial burden,” said another villager.
“We had a hard time preventing child marriages. In a few places parents and relatives tried to assault us,” said Vanajakshi, Child Development and Protection Officer of Gurmitkal project. In the 10 prevented marriages, the age of girls was below 15, she said.‘Coordination lacking’
Meanwhile, officials of the Department of Women and Child Development are unable to prevent more such marriages owing to lack coordination among other departments and availability of information from remote areas.
Though a joint committee with officials of the departments of Revenue, Health, Home, and Rural Development was set up to prevent such marriages, coordination was not to the extent expected, said Chandrakant Jadhav, Deputy Director of Women and Child Development Department.