Child marriages rampant in united Medak district
Once the mango season starts, child marriages too begin says Mogulaiah, a farmer. The scourge of child marriages has been haunting Medak, Sangareddy and Siddipet for years but the Women and Child Welfare department has failed in stemming the problem.
Medak/Sangareddy: Once the mango season starts, child marriages too begin says Mogulaiah, a farmer. The scourge of child marriages has been haunting Medak, Sangareddy and Siddipet for years but the Women and Child Welfare department has failed in stemming the problem.
According to a 2017 UNICEF report, the present mechanism to eliminate child marriages is inept, only one per cent of child marriages would come down. It would take decades to stop child marriages. Most of the child marriages are reported in Kowdipalli mandal, Shivampet mandal in Medak and Narayankhed, Kondapur, Sadashivpet and Hatura in Sangareddy district.
According to M S Chandra, founder of CARPED who has been working in stopping child marriages in united Medak says, “The Women and Child Welfare department states that 160 child marriages take place but hundreds of marriages go unnoticed as the mechanism has a lot of loopholes.” He further adds, “The Child Marriage Protection officers also do not know about their duties and according to the GO MS 13, every gram panchayat should have one child protection committee.”
Many gram panchayats do not have child protection committees and locals do not have an idea on reporting child marriages. M S Chandra says, “I ran a Child Helpline for several years and in my experience we found that it takes several line departments to work in quick coordination to stop a child marriage. Even if one department of official fails to respond, it falls flat.” Right from anganwadi workers, villagers, tahsildars, the police department are to work in coordination.
Ishwar, a resident of Sadashivpet says, “Many a time the officials turn a blind eye as they know the villagers and the parents know them as well. But little do they realize that it is the life of the girl that is being destroyed.”
The average age of the girls being married off is 15 years. The 120 to 160 marriages that are reported is not the correct figure argues Mallikarjuna Rao who has been working in the field of child marriages.