Rise in child marriages in Andhra Pradesh's erstwhile Guntur district

However, after receiving information, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) officials rushed to the marriage venue and stopped the child marriage.

Published: 31st May 2022 06:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st May 2022 06:38 AM   |  A+A-

Child Marriage

For representational purpose.

Express News Service

GUNTUR: Navya (name changed) is a 13-year-old girl from a tribal village in Chilakaluripet. Unable to feed the family of five, Navya's parents decided to marry her off with a 24-year-old man. Despite her refusal, she was forced to go through the marriage process.

However, after receiving information, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) officials rushed to the marriage venue and stopped the child marriage. The officials also conducted counselling for her parents and explained about the adverse effects of child marriage, punishments for child marriage.

But, later in the same week, they tried to conduct nuptials at the groom’s house. The ICDS officials managed to stop that too. Hers is not an isolated case. Despite the efforts of ICDS officials, and awareness programmes being conducted by various NGOs, child marriages are on the rise in the erstwhile Guntur district for the past three years.

As many as 23 underage marriages were stopped in 2019, the count raised to 34 in 2020, 37 in 2021, and 12 marriages till now in 2022. One of the prime reasons for the rise in child marriages can be attributed to worsening of financial condition of the lower-middle-class families due to the COVID-induced pandemic.

"Lack of education among parents and a feeling that daughters are a burden is the main reason for this evil," ICDS Project Director Manoranjani told The New Indian Express. Adding to this, the financial situations worsened as most of them became jobless and were eager to marry off their children at the earliest, she added.

According to the fifth National Family Health Survey, 29.3 per cent of women in Andhra Pradesh in the age group between 20 to 24 now were married before they turned 18-year-old. Out of which, 21.7 per cent are in urban areas and 32.9 per cent are in rural areas.

Of the 29.3 per cent, 12.6 per cent got pregnant between 15 to 19 years of age. "We are conducting several awareness programmes, including the ICDS staff and anganwadis along with a mandal-level official," Manoranjani said.


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