Ganjam district is now child marriage free

Nirbhaya Kadhi campaign yields results

January 04, 2022 01:24 am | Updated 01:24 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

Odisha’s Ganjam has declared itself a child marriage free district — the first in the State. The district administration has been able to stop as many as 450 child marriages and video-record 48,383 marriages in two years — 2020 and 2021.

“Child marriage impedes women’s development. We decided in 2019 to prevent child marriages on mission mode and generate general awareness against it,” Vijay Amruta Kulange, Ganjam District Magistrate, told The Hindu on Monday.

Mr. Kulange said, “After verification, the Ganjam administration declared it child marriage free district. Sarpanchs and task force committee members had sent recommendations that no child marriage had taken place in their respective areas.”

Ganjam had started a programme Nirbhaya Kadhi (Fearless bud). “It was not easy...We initiated the campaign...tried to prevent adolescent girls from dropping out of school, and counselling them. All heads of educational institutes were directed to inform the administration if any girl aged between 12 and 18 remained absent from school for five days. We followed up with the teachers and other grassroots level workers,” Mr. Kulange said. As many as one lakh teenagers have undergone counselling in the past two years.

The administration also made production of Aadhaar card mandatory for any marriages to take place.

Mr. Kulange added, “We had announced ₹5,000 for those informing about any child marriage. Now, this has been increased to ₹50,000.”

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