Koraput gears up to tackle child marriages | Bhubaneswar News timesofindia.indiatimes.com


Koraput: The Koraput administration on Friday formed a district-level task force (DLTF) to check the practice of child marriage, which is common among various communities in the district.
Against a state average of 21.3 per cent and a national average of 26.8 per cent, the district’s annual child marriage rate is 34.7 per cent.
This means that of 100 marriages in the district every year, nearly 35 are child marriages. Koraput occupies the fourth position in the state with regards to child marriage, with Malkangiri, Nabarangpur and Mayurbhanj occupying the first, second and third positions, respectively.
“The rate of child marriage in the district is higher than both the state and the national averages. This is a matter of great concern. Child marriage is the main reason for high infant mortality, high maternal mortality and malnutrition among children. It deprives children of the right to education,” said collector (Koraput), Madhusudan Mishra.
The DLTF comprises officials of 21 departments, including health, education, social welfare, youth, sports, police and Mission Shakti, among others. The collector said a massive awareness programme against child marriage would be launched soon.
“As school dropout contributes to child marriage, the education department will create a database on the dropouts and provide life skills to them,” the collector said. The administration has also decided to use local community radio Dhimsa, run by a voluntary organisation Sova, to broadcast programmes on child marriages in the local tribal language.
The collector said the child development protection officers (CDPOs) and anganwadi workers had been urged to be vigilant against child marriages taking place in their respective areas. The CDPOs were the child marriage prohibition officers and anyone found to be lax in their duty would not be spared, the collector said.
“This is a good step by the administration but love affairs are one of the reasons that prompt parents to marry off their minor daughters. If a family finds that a girl is in love with someone, the next step is to marry her off,” said Sanjit Patnaik, secretary of Sova.
Officials said swift action by officials had stopped over two dozen child marriages in the district in the past two years.
“Most child marriage incidents go unreported. Whenever we get complains, we intervene with the help of police and counsel parents to send the children to school,” said Rajshree Das, district child protection officer, Koraput.

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