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Child marriages still rampant

Special Correspondent


Survey in Adoni division of Kurnool district reveals startling facts


KURNOOL: The district administration, Unicef and other NGOs launched a vigorous campaign against child marriages in Adoni division of Kurnool district this summer. Of the17 mandals in the division, 12 are badly hit areas.

According to the survey commissioned by Unicef, 50 per cent of girls dropped out after primary school. About 80 per cent of them were married between 14 and 16 years of age. In a single year, 1,400 cases of child marriage were identified and 132 of them were from Yemmiganur mandal. The main reasons for the child marriages were discriminatory attitude towards girls and feeling of insecurity. Parents were anxious to get the girls married off as soon as possible. The team conducted an extensive survey among the victims of child marriage and found them to be suffering from a plethora problems like domestic disharmony, mental stress, inability to cope with the new environment, malnutrition and other health issues on account of early child bearing.

Sustained campaign

The problem was identified to be serious in Kowthalam, Holagunda and Halaharvi mandals. In all, 183 cases of child marriage were identified and 89 of them were prevented. Revenue Divisional Officer Prabhakar Reddy launched a sustained campaign involving NGOs and the government staff. However, as per the Unicef report, the response has been mixed to the campaign.

In some cases, the parents took offence for the teams ‘spoiling' the weddings just hours before the nuptial knots and causing them serious financial loss.

Some of the parents lodged a complaint with the police alleging harassment by volunteers. Fake age proof certificates were produced by some parents in their anxiety to overcome the situation.

However, after counselling majority of parents agreed to postpone marriages. The campaigners focused on the legal action and counselling while root cause of the problem such as illiteracy, poverty, violation of human rights and lack of social security of vulnerable sections was not addressed.

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