Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Memorandum submitted to Hon’ble Governor of Karnataka to expedite and forward the passing of the Karnataka Government’s Amendment to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 for assent of President of India

Karnataka Task Force Against Child Marriages urges His Excellency Sri Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala, the Hon’ble Governor of Karnataka to expedite and forward the passing of the Karnataka Government’s Amendment to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 for assent of President of India.
 The proposed amendment provides stringent punishment to child marriage abettors with imprisonment from one to two years and also empowers police to take suo motu cognizance of the crime and book cases. The amendment also has proposed to declare child marriages null and void.  The Task Force points out that any further delay in passing this very progressive amendment will only mean that the children can continue to fall prey to CHILD MARRIAGES.
Several surveys and statistical analysis have shown that Karnataka is one of the states where marriages of girls below 18 and boys below 21 are happening in large scale. These reports actually question the state Govt’s claim that child marriages have reduced!  Child Marriages have become a common feature in parts of the state while religious, political and societal patronage is given both discreetly and in public.  The Prohibition of Child Marriages Act 2006 has clearly mentions that any individual or organizations abetting child marriages would be punished with imprisonment up to 2 years and fine up to Rs.1 lakh. But, in the last ten years very few cases have been filed against the abettors as there is very little or no knowledge about the provisions of the Act, that protects the interests of CHILDREN.
One big reason for abettors of child marriages to get away is the lack of actual birth date records that show up the real age of the girls. The Karnataka State TaskForce Against Child Marriages urges the Auxiliary Nurse-Midwives (ANM), Angan Wadi Workers (AWW) as well school teachers in all habitations to adhere to the strict norms of noting the real age of every pregnant or expectant mothers. We also request the ANMs, AWWs, ASHA and the School Teachers not to support any child marriages or keep quite when they get to know about possible incidents of child marriages 
Prevalence of child marriages has been established as a reason for not meeting several development indicators as shown in the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The cycle of higher Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), Under 5 Mortality Rate (U5MR) and Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and malnutrition among children, etc., are directly linked to child marriages. If we don’t arrest child marriages today meeting development goals would be just a slogan in India.
n the state there are thousand Child Marriage Prohibition Officers (CMPO). We urge these CMPOs who are present from village level to state level to act today to protect the rights of the children. In the last six months, the TaskForce which is formed with six active NGOs working in the districts of Bengaluru, Chikkaballapura and Chamarajanagara have prevented 60 child marriages and have brought the cases to the notice of the Govt machinery and police. Also 6 FIRs have been filed against the abettors of child marriages.  But, more than 6 marriages are conducted later discreetly.
The Task Force expresses its anguish about the inaction by the police at village level, who do not come forth to protect the interests of the children facing marriage and file FIRs against the abettors. The Task Force urges the Governor to sign the proposed amendment, which gives suo motu powers to the police to take action against any abettors of child marriages. This would also empower the Special Juvenile Police Unit officers, who are designated under the JJ Act to take action, considering a victim of child marriage as a ‘child in need of care and protection’ as defined in Sec. 2[1]
The Task Force urges the Government to take seriously the recommendations made by the Justice Shivaraj Patil Committee in arresting child marriages.  The Task Force also urges the judiciary to take swift note of appeals for issuing INJUNCTION order to prevent child marriages.
In the villages and towns marriages are by and large conducted by families without any prior permission or withoiut getting 'no objection' certificate from a Govt. Authority. We urge the Government to consider bringing a general rule that when a marriage is planned, the family has to apply to the PDO in the Village Panchayat or Town Panchayat by giving age proof of the bride/ groom and get a no objection certificate. 
Chowltry/Kalyan mantapa owners or Temple Trustee or Priest should not allow the marriage to be conducted if 'no objection certificate' is not submitted. 
Once every month or once in every three months, temple (Devasthanam) Priest or Trustee, Owners of Kalyana Mantapas should submit to the Taluk Marriage Registrar or Thasildar / or to a Panchayat Executive, a report furnishing details of the marriages conducted. (Already there is a law that all marriages should be registered with the Government Marriage Registrars). 

Consortium: Karnataka TaskForce Against Child Marriage is part of a consortium of six NGOs coming together (MANUSH, Chikkaballaura; PMSR, Chamrajanagara; QWARIDS, VIDYANIKETHAN, CIVIC and CRT, Bengaluru) and is taking up a campaign against child marriages, coupled with sensitizing workshops with Govt officials, police, NGOs and general public.