Child marriages in rural Karnataka drop 50% in 15 years | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Child marriages in rural Karnataka have seen a 50% drop in the past 15 years, according to data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS).
The 2005-06 NHFS report said 50.1% of the women, aged 20-24 years, were married before the age of 18 in the state’s rural areas and this was an indicator of the prevalence of child marriages. In the 2015-16 report, the number dropped to 24.8%. In the recently released 2019-20 report, the figure stood at 24.7%. However, the urban story is different. Women aged 20-24 years married before the age of 18 years in urban Karnataka made up 28.5% in 2005-06 and the data for 2019-20 shows it is 21.3%.
Experts said the gamechanger was the introduction of Prohibition of Child Marriages Act, 2006, which empowered the government and activists to address gaps in earlier legislation.
“The Act, campaigns, awareness activities, NGOs, complaint mechanism through children’s helplines, and appointment of child-marriage prohibition officers have cumulatively made a difference. For further prevention of child marriages, active participation of local gram panchayat members is required…,” says Vasudeva Sharma, executive director, Child Rights Trust, an NGO working on upholding children’s rights.
Tougher to prevent child marriages in urban areas: Official

Child rights should be included in the training for gram panchayat members,” says Sharma. According to him, the major challenge is to prevent the wedding that happens when a girl is 16-18 years of age.
Sharma says child marriages are easier to prevent in rural parts than in urban areas. “An anganwadi worker in a rural area knows houses within her purview very well. Awareness-building activities must be increased in slums and localities where migrant workers live,” he adds. Prevalence of child marriages has not seen a drastic reduction in urban areas, and this poses challenges in terms of a young girl’s protection, health and education.
‘Awareness being created’
RS Peddapaiah, director, women and child welfare department, agreed that prevention of child marriages is tougher in urban areas as most of such marriages happen outside the city limits. “More secrecy is maintained in urban areas when a child marriage is conducted. Awareness activities have been going on in schools and colleges detailing the effect of child marriage on various aspects of life, including woman’s health,” says Peddapaiah.
“Prevalence of child marriage is more in tribal settlements like Chamarajnagar, Mysuru, Kolar, Raichur and Koppal districts,” he adds.

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Sagar Biswas

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