“Unfinished talk of far-flung hinterland: awareness needed to combat child marriage”

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Bhubaneswar: Rebeka, a 15 years old girl from Makaguda village of Gudari block in Raygada district lost her parent with in a gap of two years. She is left with 2 brothers and 2 sisters i.e. Tinku (11), Santi (10), Maria (6) and Adab (4). This incident suo moto imposed the responsibility on her to take care of the siblings; hence she was dropped out from the school. As this year the elementary school in the village is also closed due to less enrolment, her brothers and sisters are also forced to be out of school. Due to the closure of schools they are now also deprived of Mid Day Meal. To maintain the family Rebeka is working as a daily wage labourer. Villagers had the opinion that marriage of Rebeka will help them to get rid of poverty and derisory. They too find out a bride groom for Rebeka. Rebeka, a bright student want to continue her study, however situation compelling her to think about the proposed marriage too.

Mita Sramatuka of village Kandakuti in Karlaghati Grampanchyat is going to marry on this April 25th is only of 14 years old. The marriage is considered as an issue of prestige as the parents of Mita has already received bride price ( goat, liquor etc) from the family of bride groom. Though responding to the complain Ramesh Chandra Nayak, the District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) assured an inquiry to the matter, also took it easy by saying this as part of tribal culture.

Prativa Ghaosh, a media fellow of National Foundation of India (NFI) who brought up these two cases into limelight told that these are not cases in isolation. Places like Dangasil, Maikanch of Kasipur block, Kembaguda, Akhusingh of Padmapur block, Chandrapur, Hanumantapur, Iskapanga, Turiguda and Srapa of Chandrapur block are more prone to child marriage. Apart from Rayagada child marriage is predominant in other districts like Malkangiri, Koraput, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Nabarangpur.

“If the Govt really wants to prevent child marriage, it is essential to emphasise on the effective implementation of Right to free and compulsory education said Ghasiram Panda, the advisor to Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (OSCPCR). Massive awareness on prohibition of child marriage is also the need of the hour he added.

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