The Jharkhand child welfare authorities have called for a better follow-up mechanism to prevent children, who escaped early marriages, from becoming victims again.
Activists say that most children in Jharkhand who get married at a young age often end up being trafficked to other states.
“Many child marriages are fixed by placement agents who send these children to different states where they are forced work as domestic help and exploited,” says Meera Mishra, a member of Ranchi child welfare committee (CWC).
She says that children who have been rescued from marriage once, remain on the radar of human traffickers and it is essential to conduct regular checks to ensure their safety.
The CWC conducts its own follow up of such children, she says, citing a recent case of a 16-year-old girl, who was being forced to get married to a 20-year-old boy from Agra when the Childline and the CWC intervened and stopped the marriage at Argora in Ranchi.
Child marriage is still rampant in Jharkhand but authorities are able to stop only a few of them, she says. The CWC on an average receives reports of child marriage cases once every two to three months.
Officials say they fail to receive information about child marriages from the rural areas, however, general awareness among people regarding the social evil has increased and now members of the civil society and NGOs report such cases.
The Annual Health Survey 2012-13, states that Jharkhand has the third highest rate of child marriages in India after Rajasthan and Bihar, with 51.8% of girls being married before they turn 18.
Ranchi Childline coordinator Sujit Goswami says the state labour department needs to help in rehabilitating child marriage victims by providing them with skill development and technical training in the shelter homes, to make them employable in the future.
“Children who are rescued from child marriages are kept in shelter homes for a few days and are counselled along with their parents before letting them return to their parents’ house while many are admitted to Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas, government-run residential schools,” he says.