With Telangana persistently ranking among the high prevalence states for child marriages in India, the state machinery has embarked on a mission to eradicate this social malaise by 2030. Telangana, alongside seven other states, has seen alarmingly high rates of child marriages, prompting concerted action from government agencies and civil society organizations.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report for 2021, Telangana witnessed 57 reported cases of child marriages in 2021, marking a concerning trend over the past few years. The figures indicate a persistent challenge that the state faces in combating this harmful practice.
The National Family Health Survey 5 (NFHS 2019-21) revealed that Telangana’s average for child marriages stands at 23.5 percent, slightly higher than the national average of 23.3 percent. In response, the state government has intensified its efforts to prevent underage marriages. Recently, key stakeholders including the Women and Child Development department, State Legal Services Authority, TS Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and Bachpan Bachao Andolan convened to address the challenges and explore solutions to tackle child marriage and child sexual abuse.
Data provided by the state government highlights the districts most affected by child marriages, with Khammam, Nalgonda, and Mahbubnagar recording the highest prevalence among adolescents aged 15-19. Conversely, districts like Karimnagar show relatively lower rates of child marriages. Despite these figures, only 154 cases were officially registered under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act between 2019 and 2021, indicating a significant underreporting of incidents.
Efforts to mitigate this issue have shown some success, with initiatives like the ‘Kalyana Lakshmi’ and ‘Shaadi Mubarak’ schemes playing a pivotal role in preventing child marriages. These schemes offer financial assistance to families, thereby reducing the economic burden that often drives such marriages. However, challenges persist, especially concerning socio-economic disparities, with girls from poorer households disproportionately affected.
Teenage pregnancy, a consequence of child marriage, has seen a decline both nationally and in Telangana, according to NFHS data. This decline underscores the importance of concerted efforts to address the root causes of child marriages and their associated ramifications.
Government officials emphasize the significance of collaborative action involving various stakeholders to effectively combat child marriages. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, of 2006, provides the legal framework to address this issue, prescribing punishments for those involved in solemnizing underage marriages.
As Telangana strives to achieve its goal of eliminating child marriages by 2030, it remains imperative for all stakeholders to work together cohesively, addressing socio-economic inequalities and raising awareness to create a safer environment for the state’s children.Crime Today News | Telangana
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