NGOs blame lax officials for child marriages

NGOs blame lax officials for child marriages

 Members from various NGOs blamed the “laid-back” attitude of officials from the Department of Women and Child Development in holding regular review meetings, for child marriages in the state.

At the state-level consultation on ending child marriages in the state on Monday, some members questioned deputy director of the Child Marriage Prevention Cell that officials are not holding regular meetings and sometimes the minutes of the meeting are also fabricated.

However, Rohini Hiremath, deputy director said that there are reports of meetings not being held or very few meetings held, but minutes of the meetings cannot be created and no such false reports have been filed.

She said the department has taken up various steps to curb child marriages to effectively implement the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Karnataka Amendment) Act 2016 that was enforced from April this year. The consultation was held in association with World Vision India.

Dr Kripa Amar Alva, chairperson, Karnataka State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) said Karnataka accounts for 23.2% of child marriages in the country.

The practice is prevalent in almost all the districts of Karnataka. She also mentioned about the instances of men from sex-ratio skewed states like Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh seeking underage brides from the state, thus leading to forced marriages, and eventually, in many cases, child trafficking and prostitution.

According to KSCPCR, North Karnataka suffers most from this social evil, with Yadgir, Belagavi, Bagalkot, Ballari and Kalaburagi being some of the worst affected districts.
The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Karnataka Amendment) Act 2016 was passed in April this year, declaring child marriages invalid.

The current penalty for offenders of such crimes is rigorous imprisonment for one year and a fine of Rs 2 lakh.

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