According to the Social Welfare and Women Empowerment department data, an average of 10 child marriages have taken place in the state per day this year so far. The data stated that 2,516 child marriages were reported during January to August.
The department stated that of the 2,516 child marriages reported, 1782 marriages could be stopped while 734 took place. Of this Namakkal district reported the maximum cases with 182 child marriages reported from the district alone.
Police have registered 548 FIRs in connection with the child marriages in the state. The Social Welfare Department of Tamil Nadu, alarmed by the rise in the number of child marriages, is conducting awareness programmes across the state. The department is in the process of shooting small videos involving movie and television stars and spreading awareness in movie theatres as well as in between popular television programmes.
Social Welfare Department sources told IANS that the number of child marriages is high in Namakkal, Cuddalore, Dindigul, Salem, Krishnagiri, Theni, Tiruchi and Erode districts with the Namakkal district at the top with maximum number of cases.
The police and the Social Welfare department has successfully stopped 95 per cent of the child marriages in Ariyalur, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and Pudukottai districts of the state and this is due to the vigil maintained by the neighbours and some social organisations active in the empowerment of children, especially girl children.
SEEK, an NGO based out of Salem district was at the forefront of the campaign against the child labour. Rajamohan Das, the director of SEEK while speaking to IANS said, “The prevalence of Child Marriages in many parts of Tamil Nadu is due to poverty and in some cases due to social structures in communities. This has to be changed for sure and awareness and stringent legal action are the only means to prevent these inhuman acts. We are doing our bit but the issue is at a macro level and the positive intervention of the government is the need of the hour.”
The Social welfare department is in the process of preparing a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for handling child marriage cases across the state.
The department was also planning to rope in the state school education department and rural department to prevent child marriages as reporting from schools will help prevent most of the marriages. Rural departments can be helpful in identifying individuals gearing up to conduct the marriage of their under-aged children.
A senior officer of the social welfare department while speaking to IANS said, “Child marriages can be prevented if all the departments join together as well as there is community pressure against this. For this awareness is important and gender equality must be promoted so that the girl child does not find herself inferior to the boys.”
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