Consultation to Prevent Child Marriage held

Report by Rajeev Lochan Rathan, Bhubaneswar: A state level Consultation was organised by Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) on Child Marriage at IMA Conference Hall of Capital Hospital on Sep 27.In the workshop representative from Women and Children Development, Health and Family Welfare, Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) and Orissa Voluntary Health Association (OVHA) were present.

Around two hundred participant representing adolescent groupS, SHGs and PRI members from Ganjam, Bolangir, Sonepur and Rayagada districts were represented in the workshop.

WCD Saswati Patnaik said,that all the communities should follow the mechanism of government to stop child marriage. Every scheme set by the government will work well if pepole avail it and all family members should know the responsibility lies with whom for availing the benefit.

Adolescent girls should fight for rights and families should also do so. First empower ourselves than look at the empowerment of the community. We have the power,so we should help ourselves than should seek the help of the community at large,Signdha Rain of OPEPA said.

We learn about SRHS and Life skill from VHAI. We feel great to be here and with the support of the community more people can be at this place and help the community to grow, Subhasmita a participant said.

Government should increase the age of marriage as 21 for girls also so that girls will have space for growth. Girls are facing lots of problem and this can only be solved if the girls are given equal opportunity in life, Payal a participant said.

Express happiness that VHAI have stopped child marriage in Khalikkote block.Each village is being sensitized and the girls are openly speaking about the vice in the society. Drop out girls are now in school and skill of the girls have been improved only because of VHAI, Daitari Behere PRI Member said.

The children asked to the dignitaries that how they can get opportunity to express themselves more in life and how to be a leader for change. Why we are not provided with scholarship so that we can pursue higher education, why the sanitary napkin distributed by government comes with a cost?

Child marriage in India is common and as per a WHO report, we testified the highest number of unregistered children under age five between the year 2000 – 2012 and the second-highest number of child marriages. As per NHFS-4 report 21.3% girls in Odisha are getting married before 18 years of age. The Ganjam district as per the Annual Health Survey (2012) is one, where 38% of the married women between the ages of 20-24 had reported to have been married before they were 18 years of age. It also has acute migration among young boys and parents of girls continue to be trapped in the web of persistent poverty and social recommendation which makes them marry their girls early.

Adolescent 10-19 years (10-14 Years: Very Young Adolescents) in India constitute 22% of the country’s population. Adolescent are not a homogenous group, again their situation varies by age, sex, marital status, class region and the cultural context. A large number of them are out of school, get married early, work in vulnerable situations, are sexually active and are exposed to peer pressure. These factors have serious social, economic and public health implication.

For young girls, poor nutrition, early childbearing and reproductive health complications compound the difficulties of adolescent physical development. Anaemia is one of the primary contributors to maternal mortality (maternal mortality is five times higher in anaemic women) and is associated with the progressive physical deterioration of girls ages 10-19. Nutritional deprivation, increased demand of her body, excessive menstrual loss, and early/frequent pregnancies all aggravate and exacerbate anaemia and its effects.

This calls for health intervention that is flexible and responsive to their disparate needs. Thus, there is a need of creating Adolescent Friendly Health Services (AFHS) at institute and outreach level, and creating a demand among them for better utilisation of services available around them, Debananda of VHAI said.

K.K.Swain of OVHA, Dr.Banani Samal of Health and Family Welfare, Suman Kumar Singh of VHAI and were present at the Consultation.