Warangal: Despite all efforts by officials and awareness programmes conducted by the Child Welfare department and voluntary organisations, child marriages in erstwhile Warangal district particularly in tribal tandas continue to take place. Officials of Child Protection, ICDS, revenue and police prevented a child marriage on Saturday night at Tallakunta thanda in Wardhannapet mandal, even as officials counseled five other families that were planning to perform child marriages in Wardhannapet mandal.
“In December alone, about 15 child marriages were prevented across Warangal rural district and seven of them were from Wardhanapet and Rayaparthi mandals,” District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) G Mahender Reddy told Telangana Today.
Stating that a complaint had been lodged with Wardhannapet police about the attempt to perform child marriage, he said: “Parents of children even tried to mislead us by hiding all the paraphernalia related to the marriage. But we got some conclusive evidence about their attempt to conduct the marriage.”
The Nekkonda police even registered a case against a family under the Prevention of Child Marriage Act, 2006, for performing a child marriage recently following a complaint lodged by the Child Welfare department authorities.
According to Mandala Parashuramulu, chairperson, Child Welfare Committee (CWC), erstwhile Warangal, officials had prevented 11 child marriages in Mulugu district, 36 in Mahabubabad district, four in Jangaon district, 16 in Warangal Rural district, 11 in Bhupalapally district and five in Warangal Urban district between December 2020 and January 3, 2021. “The priests help parents perform child marriages to earn money. This is not right on the part of the priests, and we need to take action against them too,” he said, adding that the committee was planning to organize awareness meetings with all stakeholders within a few days as the situation was alarming.
“Closure of schools due to pandemic Covid-19 is one of the reasons behind child marriages,” said DCPO Mahender Reddy. Meanwhile, sources said that the parents are even changing or updating date of birth in Aadhar card to avoid legal action. “The parents, in connivance with the Aadhar centres, are changing the date of birth by producing false affidavits to show that the girl had crossed 18 years. We need to take action against Aadhar centres there are facilitating this,” an official said. Warangal Rural District Collector has also written a letter to the Regional Joint Director of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Telangana, to furnish details of girls whose ages were updated, he said.
Dr Devender Bhukya, Assistant Professor of Education Department, Kakatiya University (KU), who hails from Wardhannapet mandal, says that illiteracy and lack of knowledge about health problems that girls would face besides other reasons including fear of pre-marital sexual affairs were forcing parents to perform child marriages. “The so-called ‘love affairs’ of minor girls are forcing parents to perform child marriages. When the parents go to work, the girls staying at home fall prey to youngsters and even middle-aged people. Keeping this in view, the parents are keen on getting their underaged daughters married,” he added.
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