Among Upparas, child marriage is the law

Among Upparas, child marriage is the law

grim reality: Justice Shivaraj Patil, Chairman of Core Committee for Prevention of Child Marriage chairing over a meeting, at ZP hall in Mysore on Thursday. DH Photo

The law banning marriage of girls below the age of 18 is openly and wantonly flouted by Uppara families, according to a survey conducted by Bal Gnan Vignan Samithi (BGVS), an NGO, in 10 villages of the district.

BGVS submitted the report to Chairman of the Core Committee For Prevention of Child Marriage and former Supreme Court judge Justice Shivaraj V Patil at a meeting in the Zilla Panchayat hall here on Thursday.

Justice Patil told reporters that the Uppara families’ rationalisation for child marriage was the “rarest of rare reasons” and expressed concern at the high incidence of child marriages in north Karnataka - between 45 per cent and 68 per cent.

The report says in 2005 alone, 103 child marriages were reported in Uppara families followed by 58 in 2006, 77 in 2007, 61 in 2008 and 2009. The major reasons for such marriages is that girls who cross 18 are rejected as brides, elders’ pressure and the fear that neighbours will get angry. A total of 3,451 families, including 7,894 females and 7,973 males were covered in the study. The villages include Channipuradamole, Jalahallihundi, Doddamole, Tagaranapuramole, Duggatti, Mangala, Malgankatte, Handarakallimole and Nagvalli, besides Chamarajanagar.

Whenever any trouble crops up in the community, it is the ‘Gadi Yajamans’ who have a say and there are 88 such decision makers. The other findings include - 73.25 per cent of the community people in these villages don’t own land, 80 per cent of the youngsters work as labourers, nine per cent as dailywagers, eight per cent are in government service, but on contract basis and one per cent work as government employees. The BPL families account for 78 per cent and 40.55 per cent are literate.

Report before deadline

Justice Patil that the committee will submit a report to the government within the deadline of June 2011. The committee has taken note of the opinions from various quarters and will be preparing an action report with short-, mid- and long term-plans. The short-term plan includes making it mandatory for organisers of mass marriages to comply with the law. The brides and bridegrooms must produce a certificate of age proof.

The other suggestions before the committee to check child marriage include formation of Child Rights Protection Committee, withdrawing government facilities for those families which marry off their children before the legal age, introducing child marriage and child rights as subjects in textbooks, incentives for informers, involving police officers too in the prohibition committee, creating awareness in various media and urging the censor board to remove the scenes of child marriages in the movies.

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