Over 204 child marriages performed during lockdown

As many as 204 child marriages were performed in 25 out of 33 districts in Telangana during the lockdown period from March 24 to May 31.

This information was shared by CHILDLINE, a 24 x7 free helpline for children in distress, which works in partnership with NGOs in 600 districts and 129 railway stations across the country.

The number of marriages could be much higher than 204, according to the CHILDLINE senior programme coordinator in-charge of Telangana, Raju Kotai, if the remaining eight districts where the organisation did not have local network are considered. Mr. Kotai said largescale child marriages are not unusual as 1,403 of them were performed in the State in 2019-20. But, what was strange was they took place in spite of the lockdown.

Mr. Achyuta Rao, president, Balala Hakkula Sangham, also said it is strange that the marriages took place during lockdown, though they were a common feature immediately after SSC exams every years. The parents marry off children after exams every year as they do not feel the need for further education.

The marriages district-wise are : Vikarabad - 34, Mahabubnagar - 30, Ranga Reddy and Gadwal - 15 each, Sangareddy - 14, Nagarkurnool - 13, Wanaparthy and Nalgonda - 11 each, Mahabubabad - 10, Khammam and Kamareddy - 10 each, Hyderabad and Nirmal - 4 each, Medak, Jagtial, Warangal Rural and Urban - 3 each, Medchal, Suryapet, Peddapalli and Nizamabad - 2 each, Adilabad, Mancherial, Kothagudem and Karimnagar - 1 each.

Mr. Kotai attributed the high rate of marriages in Vikarabad and Mahbubnagar to cross-border cultural issues with people of adjoining Karnataka. Moreover, the two districts have a large migrant population which was denied wage employment during lockdown. People were eager to marry off their children at the earliest due to uncertainty.

After the CHILDLINE shared the information with the Telangana State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, commission chairman J. Srinivas Rao requested district Collectors to put their respective Child Marriage Prevention Officers on alert.

He said the commission took a serious view of the marriages and is committed to study reasons.

Sources however said that the main reason was families with poor socio-economic background found lockdown an ideal time to perform the marriages at less cost in view of restrictions imposed by government. Also, fears of elopement of girl children among parents or children who had runaway from home and brought back for marriage were the other reasons.

Mr. Achyuta Rao said his team had terminated four child marriages in Medchal in the last fortnight. He attributed the marriages to closure of schools because the children had become burden to parents in the absence of mid-day meals. The parents felt the marriages could go off without a whisper and without need of inviting relatives.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 4:45:14 PM |

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