STATE WOMEN and Child Development Minister Yashomati Thakur launched a statewide campaign to curb the practice of child marriage Thursday. The Covid-19 pandemic, she said, had worsened the situation for young girls.
As many as 790 child marriages were prevented during the pandemic across Maharashtra, including 88 in Solapur districts, followed by Aurangabad (62), Osmanabad (45), Nanded (45), Yavatmal (42), and Beed (40) through joint action by the department, Childline, police and civil society members. “As a minister, I feel most concerned about child marriages.
It forces girls into prematurely adult roles, early child-bearing, responsibilities of household chores that robs them of their dreams and childhood itself. Our department is relentlessly working to prevent child marriages and strengthen ground-level prevention mechanisms through village child protection committees, Child Protection Systems and Childline (1098 helpline),” Thakur said.
The state government, Thakur said, has constituted a committee to suggest changes in the Child Marriage Prohibition Act, 2008, which was enacted in the state under the Prevention of Child Marriage Act, 2006, to stop the practice. The statewide campaign, which will run from August 5 to September-end, is a joint initiative between the state women and child development department, the UNICEF and Akshara Centre.
According to Rajeshwari Chandrasekar of UNICEF, Maharashtra is among the top five states in terms of the incidence of child marriage in the country. The incidence of child marriage in the state, she added, had declined from 47.7 per cent in 1998 to 21.9 per cent in 2019, but even now “one in five marriages involves underage girls and there has been an increase in such incidents in some districts”.
“We have covered over 40 per cent of the targeted population of about 9.5 lakh in the district with a single dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and 15 per cent of them with both the doses,” Kadam told The Indian Express.