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Rajasthan gears up to prevent child marriages on Akshaya Tritiya

On Akshaya Tritiya, considered auspicious, a large number of child marriages take place in rural Rajasthan.

Child Marriage
Child Marriage

The Rajasthan government has asked its health workers and paramedical staff and non-governmental organisations to prevent child marriages on Akshaya Tritiya, which falls on April 21, and Peepal Purnima on May 4.

On these days, considered auspicious, a large number of child marriages take place nationwide, especially in rural Rajasthan.

According to the Annual Health Survey for 2012-13, over 14 per cent of the girls were married while they were still below the legal age of 18 in the State. In itself, this is an improvement from the 1998-2002 Family Health Survey-111 figures of 65 per cent of the girls being married before the legal age. In rural areas of the State, 18 per cent of the girls are married before the legal age, compared with just 5 per cent in urban areas.

Across the state there are wide variations in the prevalence of child marriages. The survey shows that Bhilwara had 37 per cent of girls married before 18 years, with rural areas accounting for 42 per cent and urban areas 18 per cent. In Dausa, less than 100 km from the capital Jaipur, 31 per cent of the girls were married before 18, with the number in rural areas going up to 33 per cent but falling to 14 per cent in urban areas. Jaipur recorded 11 per cent child marriages, with 22 per cent reported from rural areas and 4 per cent from urban areas.

On the other hand, Ganganagar district, bordering Punjab, recorded just 3.2 per cent of child marriages, with a mere 1.3 per cent in urban areas and 3.7 per cent in rural areas. Sirohi, Kota, Dungarpur, Jhunjhunu, Bikaner and Bharatpur are some other districts with low rates of child marriages.

Health Minister Rajendra Rathore said the Accredited Social Health Activists and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives, paramedical staff, health workers and NGOs have been tasked with preventing child marriages in their areas.

A massive campaign is under way to drive home the point that besides parents and guests, all those involved in child marriages like priests, tent-house owners, cooks and band-owners could be booked under the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 2006.Hindu

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