24 April , Bhubaneswar
Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) conducted a media advocacy programme on “Prevention of Child Marriage”Friday in Bhubaneswar. The main aim of conducting this
workshop is to create awareness on early child marriage, which rampant in Odisha.
The State Project Coordinator and Odisha head, Dr.Bishwaranjan Purohit ,VHAI executed this sensitization programme for media persons.
“Child marriage is a major social concern and a violation of children’s rights – whether it happens to a girl or a boy – as it denies the basic rights to health, nutrition, education, freedom from violence, abuse and exploitation and deprives the child of his/her childhood.
In India, around 43% of women aged 20 to 24 years are married before the age of 18 years, whereas this was 38% for Ganjam district (Annual Health Survey-2012). There has been a decline in the incidence of child marriage in nearly all states, but the pace of change remains slow.
The “Unite against Child Marriage” (UaCM) programme supported by SIMAVI, Netherlands, is operational in Ganjam district of Odisha state. The programme is implemented through Voluntary Heath Association of India (VHAI) in four blocks of the Ganjam district namely Kholikote, Ganjam, Chatrapur and Beguniapada.
Child marriage is a common practice throughout the country but it affects girls in rural areas more than in urban regions. Disparities may also be seen across different groups. Girls from poorer households and scheduled castes and tribes in comparison to girls with less education tend to marry at a younger age”, says Dr. Purohit.
Mr. Khsyamakara Swain, secretary, Odisha Voluntary Health Association (OVHA) said that Child marriage has adverse effects for the child and for the society as a whole. For both girls and boys, marriage has a strong physical, intellectual, psychological and emotional impact,
cutting off educational opportunities and chances of personal growth.
Child brides will frequently drop out of school and be exposed to higher risk of domestic violence and abuse, increased economic dependence, denial of decision-making power, inequality at home, which further perpetuates discrimination and low status of girls/women, he said.
In Odisha, the Census 2011 has come up with a shocking disclosure that 11000 girls below the age of 15 have given birth to babies when they should have been going to school.
Of the 59.09 lakh girls below the age of 15, 41729 girls were already married. Around one-fourth of the married girls (10685) in the same age group had delivered before celebrating their 15th birthday. While 3896 (9.34% of those married) had become mothers of at least one child, 6789 girls (16.27%) had delivered two children.
In the age group of 15 to 19 years, there are 2.9 lakh married women in Odisha. Of them, over 65000 (22.52%) had given birth to one child, over 12000 (4.23) to two children, 4400 (1.55%) to three children and 5500 (1.92) to four children.
According to Civil Registration System, Odisha gave an alarming picture that among the 0 to 1 year child birth trend in Odisha, the sex ratio is 886 in 2013 and 880 in 2014, 794 in Ganjam, lowest in Kendrapada-719 in 1000 males.