Monday, 7 October 2013

Kar-knot-ka: Karnataka ranks 8th in child marriages

Friday, Oct 4, 2013, 11:47 IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

Suparna Goswami Bhattacharya  

This is one statistic Karnataka will not be proud of. The IT state is ranked eighth in India in terms of early motherhood and child marriage.

The state, which boasts of having the best of industrial, science, IT and BT policies, has somehow failed to get it grassroot policies right. Experts say child marriage and early motherhood among girls continue to plague the state and the country, as there has been no programme made specifically targeting these two menaces.

“The primary focus of the state as well as the central government has been education.

Through that the government has been trying to control incidences of early marriage,” says Sonali Khan, vice-president, country director, Breakthrough, a global human rights organisation.

However, according to Khan early marriage is not directly linked with education. Data shows that the practice is prevalent even among people who are educated up to a certain level. Factors like social stigma, sexuality, dowry, safety and tradition play a dominant role when it comes to early marriage of girls.

“A daughter will not go against her family to lodge a complaint in the police station. Also, since most of them belong to lower socio-economic group, an arrest of the head of the family will only put more burden on them,” argues Khan. Thus, the problem needs to addressed at a social level.

Men, especially fathers, need to be educated on the health repercussions on their daughters when they are married early, say activists.

It has been found that girls who bear children before they close their adolescent growth spurt remain physically under-developed and have greater risk of complications in pregnancy and maternal death.

Legal steps
To reduce incidence of child marriage, Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 was amended in 1979, 2006 and 2008.

Under the Act, whoever performs or directs any child marriage shall be punishable with simple imprisonment, which may extend to three months and shall also be liable to fine.

Under the latest amendment, a girl who is forcibly married below 18 years can approach the court to declare her marriage null and void if she so desires.



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