Rise in child marriage, physical abuse complaints during lockdown

The Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights is shocked to learn that ChildLine has been seeing an increase in the number of complaints pertaining to child marriage and physical abuse since the lockdown began.

Antony Sebastian, chairperson of the commission, said that according to data provided by ChildLine, between 25 March and April 5, the helpline received 37 calls reporting child marriages and 32 calls related to physical abuse of children. He said that this number of child marriage cases was “abnormally high” and needed to be verified.

“We think people perhaps are under the impression that they can discretely conduct child marriages during lockdown and nobody in their village or town will get to know,” he said.

They also received a large number of calls pertaining to medical and educational support. Mr. Sebastian said that they found the data alarming and have formed teams to verify these complaints. “We had a video conference with the members of the commission on Monday and told that members need to go with the police and officials of the Department of Women and Child Development to investigate this quickly and submit reports to the commission,” he said.

A member of the commission said that majority of the calls pertaining to child marriages were reported from rural areas in North Karnataka.

Nagasimha G. Rao, child rights activist, said that many families were using the lockdown as an opportunity to get children married. “Activities to monitor and prevent child marriages have been stopped, which is why the cases are on the rise,” he said. He also said that cases of physical abuse against children are also on the rise as families are “frustrated” with the lockdown and venting it out on the children.

The helpline has also received calls related online abuse.

“A girl complained that she had befriended a person online and had sent him her photos and he was using the photos to blackmail her,” said the helpline staff.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 7:25:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/rise-in-child-marriage-physical-abuse-complaints-during-lockdown/article31400116.ece

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