Agartala, Nov 28: The rising cases of child marriages, explicitly, in the rural areas of the state prompted the civil administration to take massive pre-emptive measures to stop the social menace.
According to a detailed guideline on CHESTA (Child Marriage Elimination through Sensitization, Tracking and Awareness) issued by District Magistrate Khowai revealed that people like Pundits, Decorators, and Merchant Association members who play a crucial role in solemnizing a marriage ceremony socially will be inducted into the special task force against child marriages.
Apart from that, the administration is also planning to strengthen the Balika Manchas constituted at the school level for bringing victims of child marriages back to school.
“For out-of-school children, tracking will be done taking cooperation from different stakeholders. A designated WhatsApp group will be formed with office bearers of organisation of Pundits, Oshais, decorators, merchant associations, ICDS supervisors, CDPOs, BLO supervisors and ASHA facilitators. If any member of any of these groups (pundits/oshais, decorators, merchants, Anganwadi workers, BLOs, ASHAs), receive any information about an impending child marriage they will inform the office bearers of their association/immediate superiors. All offices under District Administration including SDM offices, BDO offices and Panchayat offices will have a specialized cell to address this problem”, the guideline reads.
The guidelines also shed light on the new approach to bringing drop-out girls back to schools. Concerns were also expressed over the district’s abysmally high rate of child marriages.
“The Past two rounds of National Family Health Survey places Tripura among top 3 states in India with high prevalence of child marriage and top in teenage marriage and pregnancy. The survey uses undivided district as unit and the accurate district prevalence of child marriage in Khowai cannot be determined from the same. If the sonography reports from multiple sonography centers in the district are taken as a proxy measure, 27% of all pregnancies in the district happen in teenage, lowest being at 14. The District also has a high drop-out rate at secondary level. It is seen that girls drop out to get married and even if they drop out for academic or economic reasons, they are more susceptible to child marriage. CHESTA Child Marriage Elimination through Sensitization Tracking and Awareness, is an initiative of District Administration to Khowai to achieve the twin objectives of prevention of child marriage and ensuring zero dropout owing to the same”, the guideline added.
The District Administration also promises to incentivise the rejoining of schools after marriage in order to decrease untimely pregnancy and the social hazards associated with it.
“Any victims of child marriage who wants to rejoin school will be given a financial aid of Rs. 5000/. They will be designated as Balika Jyoti, admitted to school in age appropriate class and will be made part of the Ballka Manch in their schools. This aid will also be provided to drug out girl students between the age group 12-18 who want to rejoin the school. Aid will be disbursed by DEO after the principal/Headmaster of the school reports satisfactory attendance of 2 months. If any parent of such an adolescent girl is a nirman shramik, instead of giving financial aid, a labor inspector will be approached to cover them under particular schemes as applicable”, the guideline added.