Empower ZPs to Curb Child Marriages: NGO

The Karnataka Child Rights Observatory has come up with a set of recommendations to completely eliminate child marriage from the country. This follows months after India refused to sign a global resolution, led by the United Nations, against early and forced child marriage.

As per the recommendations, Zilla panchayats in Karnataka should be given the power of injunction to check and stop child marriages. Other suggestions are to punitive action against child marriage protection officers if they fail to stop child marriages in their areas, massive campaigning and holding follow-up camps in villages along with youth and womens’ rights groups.

The recommendations will first be sent to the India Alliance for Child Rights and then to the UN. Says Nagasimha G Rao, Associate Director, Child Rights Trust, “Nearly 40 per cent of child marriages in the world take place in India. In the recent past, there has been an increase in the number of child brides and they have been let down by Indian officials at the UN recently,” he said.

At present, District Child Protection Officers are finding it hard to handle the problem of child marriage as it occurs within families as they try to keep property from going to other families. “It is hard to monitor because children are married within homes and in temples and families do not reveal it. Block Education Officers and Panchayat Development Officers are given additional charge as Child Marriage Protection Officers and are, hence, overburdened with work,” Rao observed.

“In 2013 alone, we rescued 27 children from forced marriage in Muddebihal taluk of Bijapur. This is just a fraction of the number of child marriages that are actually taking place. If we count across Bijapur and Bagalkot districts, the number will run as high as 150-200 cases,” K Budeappa of Reach, an NGO, told Express. In Ramanagaram, there were 45 to 50 child marriages last year.
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