Odisha proposes to declare villages ‘child marriage free’

The State Government has laid down stringent criteria for villages, or wards in urban areas, to be eligible for the tag of child marriage free dwelling units.

According to the guideline, there should not have been any child marriage solemnized in the village or ward in urban areas, for a minimum period of two years, while the village level Child Protection Committee should have had regular quarterly meetings.

A village level mechanism must have been in place to track child marriages or for record keeping, and for checking the age proof of all marriages in the village.

Advika

The State Government had launched ‘ADVIKA’, a special programme, to connect adolescent girls with various government welfare programmes. In order to earn the tag of child marriage free dwelling unit, a village must have to ensure regular functioning of ADVIKA session with minimum attendance of 60% adolescents in their jurisdiction, on the Kishori Diwas. Moreover, at least 50% of adolescents must be using the ADVIKA APP.

Villages must maintain a database of all girls and boys aged between 10 and 19 years, mentioning their educational status, their enrollment in schools or colleges, and out of school children.

After recognition as a child marriage-free village, the government said village level committees should not lower their guard.

“The village level committee should meet regularly, and take stock of all awareness activities, prevention of potential child marriage cases, and conduct of ADVIKA sessions. Families identified as vulnerable, who are likely to get their girls or boys married early, need to be closely monitored,” the guideline says.

“The village committees must sensitize the religious heads and priests of different religions, in stopping child marriage. In some regions especially in tribal areas, caste and religious leaders also play a very influential role in deciding on the marriages. If they can be mobilized and convinced not to perform marriages of underage girls and boys, it will create societal pressure on parents, and they will not marry their child at an early age,” Women and Child Development department, says.

A register of all marriages would have to be maintained by the village committee with support from the Anganwadi workers.

“In some regions especially in tribal areas, caste and religious leaders also play a very influential role in deciding on the marriages”Women and Child Development Department

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