In many regions of India, child marriage is still reportedly practised even after legal restrictions. The local administrations are making efforts to control the number of child marriages in their regions. In such situations, the news of Odisha’s first child marriage free district, Ganjam, comes as a ray of hope.
Ganjam’s District Magistrate, Vijay Amruta Kulange, told the Hindustan Times that in 2019, they decided to operate the initiative to prevent child marriage as a mission. Under this mission, the local administration was successful in preventing around 450 child marriages. They also video-recorded around 48,383 marriages as well. All these numbers were achieved in the two years of the mission, 2020 and 2021.
Ganjam Becomes Odisha’s First Child Marriage Free District
DM Kulange further said that Ganjam initiated a programme called Nirbhaya Kadhi (Fearless bud) to eradicate the evil of child marriage from society. They raised awareness among the masses to teach their girl child instead of marrying them off at a young age.
They initiated drives to monitor the presence of girl students in schools and institutes. They asked institutes to inform the authorities if any girl student was absent from school for more than five days. They kept a check on adolescent girls of age group 12-18 to see if any of them dropped out of school. They also counselled around 1 lakh teenagers from 2020-2021 to raise awareness against child marriage.
The authorities also put up a prize for those who reported child marriage to them. The initial prize was Rs 5,000 which is now increased to Rs 50,000. In order to keep a check on marriages taking place in the district, the administration made the Aadhaar mandatory for marriages.
After putting in such efforts, the administration was successful in gaining the desired results. They asked Sarpanchs and task force committees for accurate data. “After verification, the Ganjam administration declared it child marriage free district,” said DM Kulange.
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