WARANGAL: The pandemic has caused a spike in child marriages in the erstwhile Warangal district. As many as 321 child marriages were foiled by the District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) officials from March 2020 to April 2021.
The reason for the spike is that children are being forced into early marriages by parents who lose their livelihoods due to the pandemic, and hence find the children a burden. According to DCPU officials, families from poor socio-economic backgrounds saw the pandemic as an ideal time to perform marriages as they could be conducted at a low cost. Another reason for the same was the fear among parents that their girl children might elope, officials said.
“Although we counsel parents about the ill-effects of child marriage, they continue to be performed. They are not considered as a violation of child rights by the people. It appears that a lot more needs to be done to prevent child marriages,” said an official.Speaking to Express, Warangal Rural District Child Protection Officer G Mahender Reddy said preventing child marriages was a huge challenge for officials as they face a lot of resistance from the local communities in the district.
He said poor financial condition of parents drives them to consider marrying their children prematurely, and a lot of such cases occur at tribal hamlets. He said these can be prevented through sensitising people on child rights and acts. He said priests could play an important role in preventing child marriages, as they are the ones who perform the ceremony. “The government should make it a matter of duty for them to prevent child marriages,” he said.