Odisha News Insight

Child Marriage still persists Invisibly in the Society

Regional Consultation on Child Marriage is Underway at Bhubaneswar- Child MarriageChild Marriage is rampant in the State. However, most of the cases go unreported or unregistered. Then it becomes challenging to trace the practice and take actions to curb this. However, mass awareness and documentation of cases of child marriage is essential to strategize efforts to curb the evil practices of the society said panelists participating in a Regional Consultation on Issues of Child Marriage in Odisha which was organized by ActionAid with the support from UNICEF.

The Consultation was graced by Mr.Rajendra Meher, Member, OSCPCR, Ms. Snehanjali Mohanty, Member, State Commission for Women, Mr. Laxmi Narayan Nanda, Child Protection Officer, UNICEF and Mr. Ghasiram Panda, Programme Manager, ActionAid. Ms. Puspashree Devi from ActionAid set context programme and urged that the two days consultation would come out with strong cases of this practices as well as its cause and consequences.

Addressing the gathering, Mr. Rajendra Meher said that we have failed to provide a secure environment for our daughters which indirectly force us to marry them off early. Citing the official quote of Odisha Legislative Assembly, he said that there are only 557 cases of child marriage which are reported in Police stations in our state. Ms. Snehanjali Mohanty also lamented on the issues and ensured that State Commission for Women is very keen to take up cases on child Marriage if at all comes to them.

In Odisha, 37.2 per cent of girls married before legal age of marriage, 65.1 per cent of female marrying before legal age not having any education and 16.8 per cent of married women of 15-19 years have experienced violence by husbands according to a report, published by UNICEF, 2012.

The Odisha Government passed the rules in September 2009 to implement the Child Marriage Prevention Act, 2007 passed by the Parliament.  As per the rules, persons (especially males) organising child marriage will be liable for rigorous imprisonment for two years and a fine up to Rs 1 lakh. The women accused will pay the fine only. Each district will have a designated officer to inquire into reported cases of child marriage and refer them to the district. However, the practice of child marriage is still rampant in the State.

Weak enforcement of prevalent laws is also contributing towards increased trend of these practices. Therefore, there is a need to foreground policies that empowers the girl child, which delegitimize child marriage not just on grounds. This Consultation was attended by the representatives of Civil Society, parents and PRI Members from Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Kendrapada, Puri, Balasore, Cuttack, Khordha districts.

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