Child brides: Victims of poverty & illiteracy

Poverty, illiteracy and ignorance of law are forcing several girls in rural Anantapur to get married before turning 18.

Published: 04th October 2022 05:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th October 2022 05:40 AM   |  A+A-


For reprentational purpose

Express News Service

ANANTAPUR: Poverty, illiteracy and ignorance of the law are forcing several girls in rural Anantapur to get married before turning 18. Child marriages, officials said, are rampant in several rural pockets, especially those bordering Karnataka, of the erstwhile Anantapur district

This year alone, officials fighting social evil have prevented 297 child marriages till August.
Such marriages are rampant in Kalayan Durgam, Raya Durgam, Gooty, Uravakonda, Madakasira, Singanamala, Kuderu, and Kambaduru mandals, ICDS records revealed. Of the 297 child marriages prevented, 76 were in February alone.

Human and Natural Resources Development Society (HANDS), a non-profit that studied instances of child marriages, found that illiteracy among parents was forcing them to marry off their daughters once they attain puberty.  It also helped them to wash their hands of the responsibility of their daughters at the earliest. Most parents, the study revealed, were unaware of the legal implication of child marriages.  

It was learnt that 74% of child brides were in the age group of 15 to 17. Unfortunately, many school teachers have not been following up on the reasons for their students dropping out, though the Education Department, too, has been fighting against underage marriages.

A government school headmistress in Singanamala allegedly issued a transfer certificate to a Class IX girl without making proper enquiries. Her parents had sought the TC ahead of her marriage. It has been alleged that around 10 girls students of that school were married off.

Survey of school dropouts taken up in Anantapur dist to curb social evil

In another instance, a Class X student of another school stopped attending the class for months after her marriage was fixed. The school authorities made no enquiries, and the incident came to light after an education department official visited the school recently.

Doctors, meanwhile, warned that child marriages and early pregnancy could lead to serious medical issues both for the young mother and child. Such pregnancies could lead to premature births and underweight babies. Such children were more likely to develop health issues, doctors said.

“Child marriages will present a raft of issues to society. They will decrease normal deliveries among the girls and the chances of Caesarean deliveries will rise. Lack of proper awareness about marriages will lead to psychological disturbances, anaemia and early abortions,” Dr Manikya Rao, Head of the Gynaecology Department in Anantapur Government Hospital, said.

ICDS project director Sri Devi said the department has been actively preventing child marriages. On being tipped off through the 1098 toll-free number, the department, in cooperation with other authorities concerned, has been creating awareness among the parents, and also explaining the legal repercussions.

Anantapur collector S Naga Lakshmi told TNIE that the district administration has taken up a survey of school dropouts. She said a clear picture would be available after Dasara. Based on the survey details, the district administration would focus on preventing dropping out of schoolgirls.

M Narayana Swamy, HANDS founder, held social insecurity as the main reason for child marriages. He said child marriages were more common among SC, ST, a few Jangala families and also some other backward communities. He recommended awareness drives to make BPL families and illiterate parents understand the social evil.

India Matters


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