Unless all government departments coordinate and adopt an integrated approach to end the age old practice of child marriage, the menace will continue in Bihar, feels the child protection and women empowerment committee of the state legislative council. It is disappointing to note that only 7% decline has been registered in the incidence of child marriage in the state in the last 20 years,h said chairperson of the committee Kiran Ghai, while addressing an inter-departmental consultation meeting to end child marriage and prevent gender based violence organized here on Tuesday.
Representatives of various government departments, NGOs and social activists participated in the discussions to eliminate the practice of early marriage. The meet was jointly organized by the committee of the legislative council and Mamta- a Delhi based NGO.
Ghai said, various departments and private sector organisations should sit together, plan a strategy and submit it to the committee for its submission to the government. gWe will pursue the matter and see to it, that the recommendations are implemented,h she added.
Principal secretary of social welfare department Santosh Mathew opined, that political commitment was a must to deal with issues like child marriage and early pregnancy. He felt, initiatives should be taken at the panchayat level for realization of the goal.
Executive director of Mamta, Sunil Mehra said unless the society changed its mindset and women continued to be considered a burden on the family, the practice would continue. The situation could be considered ealarmingf, as the average age of marriage of girls in Bihar was still 17.2, he said, adding, the situation was even worse in districts like West Champaran, Nawada and Rohtas, where on an average 80% of girls were married below the 18 years of age.
Other participants included Surendra Prasad of the panchayati raj department, Patna university professor Dr Padamlata Thakur, Priyanka, regional manager of Mamta and Ranjan Kumar of Nidan.