The Mysuru district had the highest complaints about child marriages in Karnataka between April 2021and October 2021. In the pandemic year, the district had as many as 301 child marriages reported between April 2020 and March 2021. The complaint figure is based on the calls received by the childline 1098, a helpline that ensured anonymity to the whistleblower. Moreover, several complaints were also registered based on spot visits by the officials based on regular tip-offs. Last year, Ballari district had the highest number, which was as high as 374.
Awareness Sessions In Rural Areas
The Hindu quoted the Deputy Director of Women and Child Welfare Basavaraju saying that the department had not let down its guard despite the pandemic and conducted awareness campaigns. He further mentioned, "In rural areas, announcements are made using the loudspeaker strapped to vehicles besides carrying awareness sessions in schools and aanganwadi kendras about the negative impact of child marriages in girls".
What Is The Procedure After A Complaint Is Registered?
However, the officer also admitted that the child marriage cases were high and registered it with increasing frequency. The staff from the Rural Literacy and Health Project (RLPH) NGO is entrusted with operating the childline 1098, and the team works 24x7 to receive complaints. The NGO informs the Department of Women and Child Welfare that they receive any call or tip-off against child marriage. Nonetheless, the department swiftly initiates legal action against the parents of the minor bride and groom after a claim is brought to light.
The officials from the department then raid the location with officials from other departments. In maximum cases, the marriage is prevented, and the parents of the bride and the groom have to sign an undertaking mentioning that they will postpone the ceremony till the girl attains the legal age. Saraswathi, the Director of RLPH, said that the cases peaked during the second wave because the parents thought that the government and officials were busy with their COVID-19 duties and the marriages would not draw any attention.
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