Akshaya Tritiya Today: Stars Align To Prevent Child Marriages

Akshaya Tritiya Today: Stars Align To Prevent Child Marriages

After 23 years, no wedding muhurat on festival this year

Staff ReporterUpdated: Thursday, May 09, 2024, 11:54 PM IST
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Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): The government machinery tasked with preventing child marriages on Akshaya Tritiya is relatively relaxed as there are no muhurats for marriage on the day of the festival this year. Due to a peculiar alignment of stars, which previously happened in 2000, no marriages can be performed on this Akshaya Tritiya on Friday.

“Usually, by the eve of the festival, we get information about at least 20 child marriages in the district. But this year, due to the muhurat issue, we have not received information about a single marriage till now,” district programme officer, women and child development department of Rajgarh district, Sunita Yadav told Free Press.

“Since April 1, we have stopped 27 child marriages. Last year, we had prevented 76 under-age couples from tying the knot and 15 of them on Akshaya Tritiya,” she added.

Rajgarh is among the districts notorious for child marriages in the state.

Nevertheless, the state government has issued a detailed SOP to all district collectors, asking them to be vigilant. Teachers in village schools, ANMs, Asha workers, members of SHGs, anganwadi workers and panchayat functionaries form the information network.

The members of the information network have been asked to gather intelligence on child marriages likely to be performed and pass it on to the collector, the district panchayat, SDMs and programme officers of the women and child development department.

A 24X7 control room has been set up in every district, which has been functioning for the past two days. The telephone numbers of the control room have been publicised through media, WhatsApp groups and wall paintings. Flying squads have also been constituted at the block level, which will be in the field all through the day on Akshaya Tritiya.

Also, workshops for service providers in individual and mass marriages like printing presses, caterers, pandits and bandwallahs have been organised to sensitise them about the need to prevent child marriages. They have been requested to check the birth certificates of the bride and the groom before providing their services. Affidavits have been obtained from organisers of the mass marriages that none of the brides and grooms in the event are aged below 18 and 21 years, respectively.

“We are coordinating with NGOs to ensure that no under-age girl or boy ties the knot,” said Suresh Tomar, joint director, women and child development department. However, this year, due to the muhurat issue, he added, the department expects that the number of child marriages would be low.

23% women married off before 18th b’day

According to the National Family Health Survey-V report, around 23% of women between the age group of 20-24 were married off before attaining the age of 18. Every year, on Akshaya Tritiya, thousands of girls are pushed into child marriage with the belief that marriages held on this day are blessed with longevity and good fortune.

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