Karnataka saw a sharp rise in child marriages during the coronavirus lockdown period, with almost 107 children married off within four months (April-July), according to the Karnataka High Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR).
This comes across as a matter of concern, considering the number of children who were married last year with 156 cases. A maximum number of cases were from Mysore district, followed by Ballari, Bagalkot, Dharwad, Belagavi, and other rural parts of the state.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Chairman of the organisation Dr Sebastian Anthony said, "When the administration was busy handling COVID-19 lockdown across the state, parents thought this was the best time to get their child married. There may be marriages going unnoticed by the administration due to the lockdown."
The nodal agency for children in distress, Childline, however, had made over 550 intervention between March and June related to the issues of child marriage in the state, Dr Anthony added.
As the shutdown of schools and colleges amid the outbreak also made it difficult for maintaining a record of the attendance of girls, parents used all this time to marry their under-aged girl children.
Cost-cutting is said to be another reason for parents to get their daughters married. K A Dayanand, Director, Women and Child Development Department in Karnataka states that numbers have actually doubled due to the awareness of '181' helpline numbers for women, compared to those reported last year in the same period.
The marriages that the team was able to stop were only after receiving a tip-off or the complaints through the helpline.