THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a bid to curb child marriages in the state, the government has decided to set up a ‘secret fund’ to facilitate granting incentives to the informers who report the cases of marriage of underage children to the authorities. The government has set aside Rs 5 lakh for the purpose for the current financial year and the project will continue in the coming years. As per the government order, an informer will be provided an incentive of Rs 2,500 for reporting one incident.
Child marriage, as per official reports, is still prevalent in the state as about 266 complaints were received by the authorities during January 2019-July 2020. As per the Unicef report, eight per cent of young women were married in their childhood in state.Biju Prabhakar, secretary in charge of the Department of Social Justice, said the decision was taken as part of the efforts to tackle the marriage of minor girls.
“The unofficial data says the menace of child marriage is much more serious than what we think. Incentivising informers is one of the steps being taken to contain the practice,” he said.Biju Prabhakar added that the incidents of child marriage were widely being reported in many districts in the state, including Malappuram.
“The existing social practices and the fear of the girls choosing their own partners after they become major prompt parents to give the nod to such marriages. If these people go to other states where the anti-child marriage laws are not enforced in full spirit, it would be difficult to detect such cases. There were several such instances of minors getting married off in Ooty. The minors are also married off using fudged age-related documents,” he said.
As per the government plan, the director of the Women and Child Development Department will be entrusted with the handling of the fund, which will be managed in the same way the police do with their secret fund. The director will be responsible for anonymising the informers and the amount will be paid by hand and not through the bank account to protect the informer’s identity.
266 plaints in 19 months
Child marriage, as per official reports, is still prevalent in Kerala as about 266 complaints were received by the authorities during January 2019-July 2020. As per the Unicef report, eight per cent of young women were married in their childhood in state.