The Madhya Pradesh government’s ‘lado campaign’ to prevent child marriage is benefiting girls more than boys who are more vulnerable and victims of under-age marriages, statistics have revealed.
The state government launched the campaign to prevent child marriages, however, as the name suggests — lado or girls — the government’s focus seems to be more on girls than boys.
But marriages of underage men are being performed more than women in the state, reveals the National Family Health Survey-4.
The survey states that compared to girls the number of boys who got married before the marriageable age is more. In urban area 24.6% of men were married off before the age of 21 years while only 16.6% of women were married before marriageable age, the survey revealed.
Similarly in the rural areas, 46.2% of men were married before marriageable age that is 10.4% more than women.
Between NFHS- 3 and NFHS-4, the difference of percentages of child marriages of boys and girls increased from 6.4 % to 9.5 %.
Child activists say boys too are victims of child marriage as there is a fault in the name of government’s scheme itself.
“Our society has patriarchal mind-set in which boys never face any problems despite anything wrong being meted out to them. But if the government starts a scheme thinking that only girls are victims of child marriage then it’s a matter of concern for us,” said Prashant Dubey, a child rights activist.
“The state government can start a lada-ladi or girl-boy scheme to abolish child marriage instead of launching laado abhiyan,” he said.
A few days back in Dhar, the district administration and women empowerment officer got news of a mass child marriage ceremony but when the authorities inquired about the event, organisers said no such law was violated and were ready to submit age certificates of the women who were married off.
But when a team reached the spot on the day of the marriage and checked certificates, they found that all girls were above 18 years while seven boys were less than 21 years of age.
Women and child development department principal secretary JN Kansotiya admitted that the name of the campaign was confusing people. “The department has given direction to stop child marriages of both boys and girls,” he said.
Marriages of underage men are performed more than women in the state
24.6% men married before legal age of 21
16.6% women married before 18
46.2% men married before 21
35.8% women married before 18
Source: National Family Health Survey-4