118 child marriages prevented in Karnataka in the thick of lockdown | Bengaluru News – Times of India
In April, the department received 129 child marriage-related complaints from across the state and its child protection officers successfully prevented 118 of them. However, 11 marriages couldn’t be stopped. One of them had been held in Coimbatore in September 2019 but was brought to the notice of the department only in April 2020. The 10 other marriages took place in April, officials said.
Child marriage may have been made illegal in 1929, but it was only in 1978 that the marriageable age was legally set at 18 for women and 21 for men. And though child marriage numbers have been declining over the years, that the practice has not died out is a matter of shame. The silver lining is that more people recognise it as a crime and are willing to come forward and inform the authorities. The sad part is that we still have a long way to go before this social vice can be completely eradicated.
April and May are known to be the season for child marriages and the department took several precautionary measures, say officials. It has prevented 356 child marriages in all till April-end this year.
According to KA Dayananda, director, women and child welfare department, the number of child marriages prevented is the highest ever in April 2020. “This is because of increase in awareness. The more complaints we get, the more effective our action will be. April and May are the months when child marriages are more. That’s because it’s the time of summer holidays. The number of complaints we get also goes up during these months,” he said.
Curiously, the marriages were all set to to be conducted in the thick of the lockdown. “But in rural areas, there was movement of people and vehicles between villages unlike in urban areas,” said Dayananda.
Vasudeva Sharma NB, nodal director of Childline (1098), and executive director, Child Rights Trust, said several child marriages might have still taken place in April without them being reported anywhere. “Childline staffers have acted upon every complaint received. However, there could be cases that weren’t on our radar. Most child marriages occur within communities, relatives and villages. Lockdown may not have had an impact on such marriages,” he said.
The department has filed FIRs in seven of these cases so far. Two cases were registered in Tumakuru, one in Shivamogga and four in Mysuru.
The highest number of child marriages were prevented in Mysuru and Chitradurga (21 each), followed by Belagavi (12), Ballari (10) and seven each in Shivamogga, Koppal and Chikkamagaluru districts.
Interestingly, no such complaints were reported from Yadgir, Mandya, Udupi, Dakshina Kannada, Haveri and Ramanagara districts.