Scourge of child marriages in agency areas

Scourge of child marriages in agency areas
Highlights

Despite several initiatives taken by the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) to curb child marriages, the social evil is still rampant in tribal villages of Bhadrachalam division. 

Bhadrachalam (Khammam): Despite several initiatives taken by the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) to curb child marriages, the social evil is still rampant in tribal villages of Bhadrachalam division.

  • Tribal girls falling prey to child marriages because they are illiterate
  • In 2014, 32 child marriages were reported in the agency areas of Khammam district and the number jumped to 146 in 2015

The abnormal rise in child marriages in recent years is a matter of concern to the civilised society. In 2014, 32 child marriages were reported in the agency areas of Khammam district and the number jumped to 146 in 2015. About 40 child marriages were prevented by the ICDS officials in the first quarter of this year. In the guise of upholding family tradition, many illiterate and ignorant tribals are ruining the childhood and future of their little daughters.

The number of child marriages, have risen in places like Dummugudem, Charla, Venkatapuram, Wajedu and other mandals bordering Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, wherein poverty is a major cause. Though several schemes were introduced for the economic uplift of tribals there was no significant improvement in their living standards. It is evident with the widespread prevalence of child marriages in tribal areas.

Expressing concern over the alarming rise in child marriages in the recent years Sushma, a teacher said, "It is a major evil plaguing the society. ICDS, ITDA and other government agencies, in association with NGOs, should spread awareness among tribals about the harmful effects of child marriage. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act should be effectively enforced in the agency areas. Tribals should know that the violation of this Act can really attract fine and imprisonment in extreme cases."

Girijan Association leader Sonde Veeraiah underlined the need for implementing a plan of action to end child marriages. Equal emphasis should be laid on promotion of socio-economic awareness among tribals who are yet to join the mainstream and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act should be enforced to eradicate the social evil, he said.

Speaking to The Hans India, ICDS Project Officer M Lakshmi Prasanna said, "We are organising rallies and other types of campaigns in tribal hamlets to spread awareness about the adverse consequences of child marriages in the society. We prevented a child marriage in the temple town in Bhadrachalam in March. Another child marriage was also averted this month. We counseled the parents of the girls and got an assurance that they would not marry off their daughters at a tender age."

Admitting the widespread prevalence of child marriages in agency areas of Khammam district, ICDS Project Director R Varalakshmi said that child marriages were quiet evident in Yellandu, Karepalli, Garla, Kothagudem, Paloncha, Penuballi and Manuguru mandals. "We prevented about 20 child marriages in the last two months after receiving complaints from social activists and well-wishers of the girls.

We are counseling the parents keeping in mind the harmful effects of child marriages. The ICDS, in association with other government agencies and NGOs, is leaving no stone unturned to ensure the bright future of girls by eradicating the social evil."

By PV Satyanarayana

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