Bhubaneswar: In India, child marriage is defined as the marriage of males below the age of 21 years and females below 18 years.According to the NFHS-3 and NFHS-4 data, there is a significant decline in the actual percentage of child marriage both for females (20.6%) and males (12%). If the national average of child marriage for females is down from 47.4% to 26.8% and for males from 32.3%to 20.3%, it becomes imperative to focus on analysing and addressing the percentage in which the practice still persists for various reasons.People’s Cultural Centre (PECUC) in collaboration with SOA National University of Law and in coopration with IACR ,OACR ,NACG-EVAC,Odisha, AEIN & TDH[G] organized a consultative conclave on Ending child marriage :moving from law to justice to raise awareness on prevention of child marriage and safeguarding the vulnerable section.
The Chief Guest of the occasion, Justice Laxmikanth Mohapatra, Former Chief Justice of Manipur High Court stated that poverty, illiteracy and superstition are the major causes leading to child marriages in India. To fight against such social evil there is a need for awareness, which needs to be created by the stakeholders, government and social activists. Mr. Ranjan Ku Mohanty, Secretary, PECUC while welcoming & sharing purpose of the workshop he said there has been a decline of 15.9% in marriages of women before 18 years & 11.2% in marriages of men before 21 years from NHFS 3-2005-2006.However variability exist across districts & communities . Prof.Prabeer Pattnaik, Dean SOA National Law Institute emphasized on of Section 16 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 it provides the statutory duties of Child Marriage Prohibition Officers but these duties are not explanatory and need to be crafted properly. Senior Advocate High Court,Odisha , Sj Sourya Sundar Das said that There is need for increased awareness and state government should implement the laws in a stringent manner to eradicate the social menace of child marriage. In the technical session Mr S.K.Nanda ,Principal M.S.Law college ,Narayan Chandra Sarangi ,Dean Xavier Law school, DR S.A.K.Azad ,Legal professional, Advocate Dhaneswar Mohanty , Anuradha Mohanty ,Executive Director PECUC & Member JJB gave presented on various aspect of the law and situation and recommendation too.Among other eminent guests were senior Professor from the P.G.Dept of Law, Utkal University, M.S.Law College, Cuttack, Xavier School of Law, the KIIT Law School, Sambalpur University and lawyers form the Orissa High Court and State Bar Association along with student Delegates from different Institutions across the State.
The recommendation of the conclave review of present law ,the conflicting definition of ‘child’ and the ‘age of majority’, legitimacy of children along with separate age (of boys and girls) , Effectiveness of compulsory registration of marriages, access to the same in distant rural areas, amendment to the age of consent and provisions for stricter punishments were reviewed, Responsibility of the District magistrates on implementation of Action Plans , Budget Allocation ,Training of Police Officers along with Nodal Officers was widely recommended to spread sensitization and make implementation at the ground level a true success, awareness on child rights & laws should be taught in the curriculum at the school & collage level and a cultural change with empowerment of girl child would help eradicate the problem from the root, the need for mitigation and rehabilitation Strategy for victims of child marriage was discussed for better implication of the same. The outcome and recommendation shall be submitted to National Human Rights Commission as a National coference to end child marriage in India is scheduled to be held in the last week of August by NHRC & & SAIEVAC at New Delhi .