Karnataka: Bagalkot district reports 45 child marriages in 2 months | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Amid the Covid-19 second wave, Bagalkot district has a dubious record, reporting 212 child marriages over the past year and 45 cases in just April and May.
While the youngest rescued was 9 years old, the oldest was 17 years, 11 months.
Spread across 50sqkm, Bagalkot is at the farthest north-western corner of Karnataka and shares a border with Maharashtra.
While 45 cases in two months have been reported, many others may have happened clandestinely.
The primary reason for the reportage is the lockdown that has enabled authorities to track marriages or related festivities in villages and smaller urban centres.
Bagalkot zilla panchayat chief executive officer T Bhoobalan, who has led the fight against child marriage in the district, said these numbers are very alarming. He wants to create awareness among people and decided to tackle each case. The rescued children are returned to their parents’ home only after the family gives a written undertaking that they will not arrange the child’s marriage till they turn 18 years.
Other officials suggest there is some leniency if the girl is close to 18 years.
The district administration has set up the portal ‘Marriage Victims and Monitoring Children Health Records’ (with assistance of the National Informatics Centre) which tracks all rescued children till they turn 18.
The ZP has roped in the local unit of the women and child welfare department and police to keep track of all rescued children.
“We have formed teams to visit homes of all rescued children once a week to check on their status. The teams will upload a picture of the child with the family to track their safety and try to ensure they live a normal life and go to school,” Bhoobalan said.
Bagalkot is the only district which maintains a record of such rescued children with follow-up on a regular basis. Of the 212 child marriages, the district administration has filed an FIR in seven cases where the families have reneged on their assurance.

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Sagar Biswas

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