By NewsGram Staff Writer
Koppal District, Karnataka: Around 35000 girls from Koppal district will take an oath in writing that they will not undergo child marriage, and that they will marry only after attaining the legal age of 18-years.
The girls will submit these written oaths to the district unit of the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), according to a report published in Vijaya Karnataka newspaper, a Kannada daily.
According to a report published in 2010, even though the percentage of child marriage had come down from 50% in 1998-99 to 44.5% in 2006, the percentage in certain states like Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh etc. were still high. It also says that according to 2001 census, around 300,000 married girls became mothers before the age of 15.
A 2008 study states that two out of five girls in Karnataka were married off before the age of 18 and around 51.4% of the marriages in Koppal district were child marriages. Between 2010 and 2015, a total of 804 incidents of child marriages have been prevented by various officials and voluntary groups.
The UNICEF has formed around 900 groups in various parts of the district and has inducted girls between 13-18-years of age as its members. These girls have been taught about the dangers of child marriage.
In order to strengthen the resolve of these girls to not succumb to the pressure and marry early, the district unit of the UNICEF has started this written oath campaign. The campaign is scheduled to begin towards the end of August and will run till December end.
The district officials in Koppal have also taken various measures to curb child marriage. The previous deputy commissioner of Koppal had written letters to students in various high schools and pre-university colleges. The present deputy commissioner R.R.Jannu has made it compulsory for the marriage card printers to verify the age of couple before printing the cards, according to the Vijaya Karnataka report.
The UNICEF initiative will serve as an example which can be implemented throughout the country.
The practice of marrying children early has serious consequences on children, especially on the girls. It infringes the rights of girl children to have a free and open childhood without any burden or responsibility. It may also lead to girls dropping out of school and making them deprived of education. Such girls will be exposed to sexual activities quite early and hence will be exposed to various health risks. Early pregnancies will further increase their responsibility. Such girls are denied a future where they can make their own life decisions.