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Child marriage on the rise in Telangana, ranks 12th in the country

In this regard, a state level consultation was held here Tuesday to mobilise all stakeholders of child protection to move together and help in the realisation of Child Marriage-Free India.

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Hyderabad: Telangana figures as the 12th in the country in child marriages cases.

According to Census 2011 report, around 2.8 lakh children were married off before turning 18. In this context, Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s Children’s Foundation (KSCF announced their upcoming “Child Marriage Free India” campaign here on Tuesday.

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In this regard, a state level consultation was held here Tuesday to mobilise all stakeholders of child protection to move together and help in the realisation of Child Marriage-Free India.

KSCF co-organised the consultation with the Telangana State Legal Services Authority (SLSA). KSCF has started nationwide consultations after the recent appeal by Kailash Satyarthi for a sustained campaign across the country to make India child marriage-free.

At the state-level consultation the key points discussed were appointment of Child Marriage Prohibition Officer (CMPO), mandatory FIR registration in cases of child marriage and incentivization of parents to motivate them to not marry their under-age children.

The National Family Health Survey-V (NFHS 2019-21) reports that nationally 23.3 per cent women between the age group of 20-24 were married off before attaining the age of 18. Telangana reported 23.5 per cent of women in the same age group were married before the age of 18.

Further, according to the report of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2021 number of child marriage in Telangana rose from 35 in 2019 to 57 in 2021. The NCRB report highlights the fact that there is gross under-reporting of cases in the state, which needs to be addressed at the earliest.

In this background, the consultation deliberated on pertinent issues linked to child marriage and legal applications to stop the evil practice. Among the key issues discussed in the consultations included mandatory registration of FIR in cases of child marriage to ensure appropriate action takes place, linking child marriage with Juvenile Justice (care and protection) Act and POCSO Act for penalising the perpetrators of crime.

Further, it deliberated on the appointment of CMPO at the district level across the country and adequate and proper training to the official and incentivization for the parents.

Key dignitaries present on this occasion included member secretary, SLSA, S Goverdhan Reddy, Commissioner, Women and Child Welfare department (WCD), Divya Devarajan, Chairperson SCPCR, Srinivas Rao, President, TRSMA, Yadgiri Shekhar Rao, Inspector General-cum-Principal Chief Security Commissioner, Raja Ram and DSC, RPF, Debosmita Banerjee S, DCP Rachakonda Commissionarate, Salima Additional DCP, Cyberabad, RitiRaj, Dhananjay Tingal, Executive Director of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, a sister organization of KSCF.

Speaking on the occasion S Goverdhan Reddy said, “Awareness sessions must be conducted for children in schools and colleges. NLSA, SLSA and DLSA has been organizing awareness programs at state and district level. 

However, a mandatory session should be planned to cover schools and colleges in the state. This weekly session would be helpful in prevention of child marriages. Also, the role of village elders, religious leaders in child marriage should be explained through awareness programs”, he added.

Highlighting the adverse impact of child marriage on children and why we must act to stop the social evil, Dhananjay Tingal, Executive Director of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, sister concern of KSCF said, “Child marriage is an evil existing in our society and should be looked as a crime against children.

It obstructs the complete development of children. All stakeholders like government agencies and law enforcement agencies must make a collective effort to stop the practice.

In this regard, our organization under the leadership of Kailash Satyarthi will work closely with the state government, law enforcement agencies and civil society groups towards a child-marriage-free Telangana, ” he added.

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