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Odisha’s Initiative to Curb Child Marr

  Feb 17, 2023

Odisha’s Initiative to Curb Child Marriage

Q. Why is this in news?

A. Odisha has been taking a long-term approach to bring about social and behavioral change regarding child marriage over the past 4-5 years.

  • Odisha recorded an overall decline in the prevalence of child marriage: from 21.3% in National Family Health Survey-4 to 20.5% in NFHS-5.

Q. How Odisha is Tackling the Problem of Child Marriage?


  • The state has implemented a multi-pronged approach to tackle child marriage, including tracking the absence of girls in schools and villages, counseling, and using a platform called "Advika" to link all schemes targeting girls aged 10 to 19 years.
  • It has issued guidelines to declare villages child-marriage-free and there are also monetary incentives for particularly vulnerable tribal groups.
    • The approaches to prevent child marriages differ from district to district, with some maintaining a database of adolescent girls and others making the production of Aadhaar number mandatory in all marriages.
    • Various districts have come up with their own ways of tackling the problem, such as weaving a Kathak performance into a local celebration to raise awareness about child marriage.
  • The emphasis is on engaging with the community, especially girls in the age group of 15 to 18 who are dropouts, and retaining them in educational institutions.
  • The Odisha police have also been involved in the effort, conducting monthly meetings in the community to discuss dropping out from school and child marriages with representatives of the panchayat, parents, and children.
    • Police stations have been made child-friendly so that girls would feel empowered to approach the police.
  • Various community leaders of different caste, tribe, and religious groups have been roped in to build awareness about child marriages.

Q. What are the major Developments in Minimum Marriageable Age in India?

  • At the time of India’s independence, the minimum marriageable age stood at 15 years for females and 18 years for men.
  • In 1978, the government increased it to 18 for girls and 21 for men.
  • The Law Commission Report of 2008, on reforming family law, recommended a uniform age of marriage for boys and girls at 18 years and not 21.
  • In 2021, the Central government sought to introduce the Prevention of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021, to raise the manageable age for women across all religions, from 18 to 21 years.
    • The proposed law will apply to all communities in the country and, once enacted, will supersede existing marriage and personal laws.

Q. What are the associated Issues with Child Marriage?


  • Health Complications During Childbirth: Child brides are often not physically mature enough to safely carry and deliver a child, leading to a higher risk of health complications for both the mother and child.
  • Interrupted Education: Marriage often interrupts a girl's education, which can limit her future opportunities and perpetuate the cycle of poverty.
  • Limited Economic Opportunities: Child brides often have limited opportunities to pursue a career or earn a living, which can leave them financially dependent on their husband and vulnerable to abuse.
  • Domestic Violence: Child brides are more likely to experience domestic violence from their husbands, who may view them as subservient and less deserving of respect than older wives.
    • Child marriage also have a significant impact on a girl's mental health, leading to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

Q. What is the Way Forward?


  • Leveraging Technology: Technology can be used to raise awareness about the harms of child marriage and to provide education and support to girls at risk of child marriage.
    • For example, mobile apps can be developed that provide information on legal rights, health, and education, and enable girls to connect with support networks.
  • Involving Religious and Community Leaders: Religious and community leaders can play a key role in ending child marriage.
    • They can be encouraged to speak out against child marriage, and to use their influence to promote education, gender equality, and women's empowerment.
  • Focus on the Success Stories: While it is important to raise awareness about the harms of child marriage, it is also important to focus on the positive.
    • This means celebrating successful programs and initiatives that have helped to reduce the incidence of child marriage, and highlighting positive stories of girls who have been able to break free from the cycle of poverty and discrimination through education and empowerment.