Keeping in view the traditional upswing of underage marriages reported during Akshay Tritiya on April 21, the state government has begun intensifying its Lado campaign to prevent any such occurrences.
The state directorate of women empowerment (DWE) has written to all district collectors to initiate special measures under the campaign to ensure that no underage marriages take place in the state, especially during the mass wedding ceremonies.
DWE commissioner Kalpana Shrivastava told HT that the campaign, which was started in 2013 with an objective of stopping child marriages, will also put focus on boys as statistics show that the percentage of underage marriages for them is higher than that for girls.
This point has been highlighted in the letter to collectors too. It quotes the Annual Health Survey (AHS) figures for 2012-13, according to which, 10.6% girls in the state are married before the legal age of 18 while 21.3% boys are married off before they turn 21. For rural MP, the percentages are 14.1 and 28.4 respectively.
The commissioner said another focal point of the campaign is to involve core group members such as religious leaders, community heads, printing press owners, caterers, traditional community cooks, band group owners and transporters who usually have information about weddings scheduled in any area.
The district collectors have been asked to activate these core group members in view of Akshay Tritiya and to ensure special monitoring of mass marriage ceremonies. Organisers of such events should furnish age related documents of the girls and boys to be married off.
Underage girls and boys who are probable brides and grooms should be listed out and a vigil needs to be kept on families which take such youngsters away in order to get them married.
Anganwadi workers need to conduct home visits to counsel families with the help of core group members.
An intensive awareness campaign needs to be created on legal provisions on underage marriages and notices should be put up at religious places and schools.
Phone numbers of authorities should also be provided at such places. District-level control room for assistance and complaints is also to be set up, the letter to the collectors said.
Girls - 10.6%
Boys - 21.3%
In rural MP
Girls - 14.1%
Boys - 28.4%
(Source: Annual Health Survey, 2012-13)