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Odisha prepares strategy paper to curb child marriage | Bhubaneswar News

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BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha government has prepared a strategy paper to stop child marriages in the state. It puts emphasis on building capacity of law enforcement agencies, including child marriage prohibition officers, school teachers and school management committee members, local PRI members, self help groups and youth clubs and other related stakeholders to prohibit child marriages.

The draft paper also suggests capacity building and training of the frontline workers such as Anganwadi Workers, ASHAs and ANMs who work at the ground level. “Women SHGs should be built as para legal workers to promote community level fora to track, monitor and report instances of violence including child marriage and trafficking of girls and women,” said the strategy paper.

It advocates for counselling and confidence building of the girl whose marriage has been stopped. Normally parents do not support the girl at that moment. The state should ensure the girl continues her education.

Child marriage has remained a problem in different parts of the state despite the state government’s effort to stop it. This menace not only impacts on health of the girls but also creates obstacle in their future life and career.

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), 21.3 per cent girls in Odisha get married before the legal age limit of 18-year. Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Mayurbhanj, Koraput, Rayagada and Nayagarh are the top six districts which recorded more than 30 per cent girls get married before the legal age.

As many as 16 districts in the state have recorded more under-eighteen girl marriages than the state’s average rate of 21.3 per cent. These districts are Malkangiri, Mayurbhanj, Nabarangpur, Nayagarh, Korapaut, Rayagada, Dhenkanal, Ganjam, Gajapati, Keonjhar, Balesore, Deogarh, Boudh, Subarnapur, Kandhamal and Anugul.

Keeping the seriousness of the issue in mind, the women and child development and mission shakti department on Tuesday asked collectors of the 16 districts and municipal commissioners of five municipal corporations (Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Sambalpur and Rourkela) to make action plan to prohibit child marriage in their respective districts and urban bodies.

Reghu G, director of ICDS and Social Welfare and chief child marriage prohibition officer, asked these officers to develop district and urban location specific action plan so that the social malaise of child marriage of girls are eliminated. He told them to undertake campaigns and engage community leaders and youths to stop this menace in the state.

Though child marriage is prevalent in all the parts of the state, rate of women get married before attaining their legal age is high in tribal areas. Even Khurda district, which has Bhubaneswar city under its jurisdiction, has child marriage rate of 18.10 per cent.

Reghu G suggested the officers to give special attention to prevent trafficking of young girls in the pretext of marriage. “Consider replication of actions or good initiatives taken by other districts to address the issue of child marriage. Take advantage of the support of UN agencies and NGOs working in your districts for development of the action plan and for its implementation,” he added.

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