BHUBANESWAR: Furthering its efforts towards preventing child marriages in the State, the Women and Child Development (WCD) department has decided to take up the issue with parents of tribal and SC students.
It has urged the SC and ST Development department to include 'prevention of child marriages' agenda in parent-teacher meetings in all its schools henceforth. "Such meetings are an effective platform in mobilising communities and sensitising teachers, students and their families in ill-effects of early marriages," said a Women and Child Development letter to the tribal welfare department on Monday.
The Odisha government has decided to reduce child marriages for girls from 21.3 pc to 10 pc and from 11 pc to 6 pc for boys by 2024 and completely end early marriages in Odisha by 2030. And for the purpose, all the district administrations are initiating district-specific measures laid down in the State Strategic Action Plan (2019-2024) which was rolled out in October 2019.
The WCD department’s decision to reach out to tribal and SC community parents comes in the wake of districts dominated by tribal and SC population reporting high incidence of minor marriages. According to the National Family Health Survey-5, 12 districts in Odisha still have a higher percentage of child marriages in comparison to the national average of 23.3 per cent.
They are Nabarangpur 39.4 per cent, Nayagarh 35.7, Koraput 35.5, Malkangiri 32.4, Rayagada 33.2, Mayurbhanj 31.3, Keonjhar 29, Gajapati 28.1, Balasore 26.4, Boudh 25.3, Angul 25 and Dhenkanal 23.7.
"Since children of these communities are still victims of early marriage, we have decided to approach their parents through the SC and ST Development department. We have given the department an agenda of key points on preventing child marriages and provisions of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 which will be discussed at the parent teacher meetings," said a higher official of WCD department.