Core committee files report on child marriage

The committee, headed by former judge of the Supreme Court Shivraj Patil, was constituted in November last year to expose the extent to which child marriage is in vogue in the state and to suggest ways and means to check it.

The report, excerpts of which were made available to the media, said in its situational analysis that as per the district level household survey on reproductive child health 2007-08, 22 per cent of women get married before 18, which is the same as the national average.

The report said the percentage of child marriage is often high in almost all northern districts of Karnataka when compared to the southern districts.

In Bagalkot, for example, half of the girls get married before 18, the report said. The least number of child marriages recorded in the state was in Uttarakannada district (1.7 per cent) it said.

Female literacy and child marriages appeared to have a strong correlation. While the percentage of girls married below 18 is less in districts that have high literacy rate like Uttarakannada, Udupi, Kodagu, Dakhsina Kannada and Bangalore, the same percentage is high in districts with low literacy rate, such as Raichur, Koppal, Bellary, Gulbarga.

The committee blamed the lack of legal awareness, poverty, economic situation, superstition, customs, illiteracy and religious practices for the menace in the state.

It called for a combination of "prohibitive, preventive and rehabilitative" strategies to deal with the problem, besides spreading awareness among people on the negative consequences of the practice.

It also suggested providing alternatives to adolescents, especially girls, in terms of educational opportunities and vocational training.

An intensive, continuous and multi-pronged year-long campaign must be launched from November 11, 2011 to November 14, 2012 against child marriage, it said.

The report also suggested viewing more seriously the "failure, negligence and dereliction of duty" by officials in relation to child marriages.

A special rapporteur, an expert in the field of child rights, must be appointed immediately for coordinating the implementation of the recommendations, the report said. 

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