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Ministry of Women and Child Development accelerates efforts to prevent child marriage

NEW DELHI, India, 25 November 2009 – To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a user-friendly ‘Handbook on the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006’ was released today.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD)has collaborated with UNICEF and HAQ-Centre for Child Rights to develop this handbook. The handbook spells out the provisions of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 and the responsibilities of the stakeholders identified in the law.

The primary stakeholders include the Child Marriage Prohibition officers, Police, District Magistrates, Panchayat Members and teachers.  The handbook also discusses the opportunities of convergence of action and services of other government functionaries such as Anganwadi workers, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), Auxiliary Nurse Midwifes (ANMs), Child Welfare Committees and District Welfare Officers.     

The MWCD will use this handbook for building the capacity of stakeholders responsible for implementing the law at the state and district level in collaboration with civil society and UNICEF.  Next steps include institutionalizing capacity building efforts against child marriage.

Capacity building efforts for the implementation of the new Act will complement existing community-based interventions, policies, programmes and schemes by Government and civil society for delaying the age of marriage.

Download Handbook Here

Child marriage is a violation of child rights – whether it happens to a girl or  a boy – as it denies the basic rights to health, nutrition, education, freedom from violence, abuse and exploitation and deprives the child of his/her childhood.

Despite legislation forbidding child marriage in India (Child Marriage Restraint Act-1929) and the much more progressive Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (2006) and many initiatives to prevent child marriage, marrying children off at a very tender age continues to be accepted by large sections of society.

Nearly half of all young women in India marry before the age of 18 (NFHS 2005-2006), and the situation is even more acute in rural areas. Though child marriage has declined slightly in nearly all states, the pace of change is slow and child marriage rates remain unacceptable throughout the country.

UNICEF efforts to prevent child marriage include raising the issue within the Meena Communication Initiative since 1991 and more recently the support to national and regional consultations on child marriage and state level advocacy.

UNICEF is leading ongoing research initiatives to enhance the knowledge for better programming. This includes the desk review of existing good practices and a formative research on the social norms around child marriage in Bihar and Rajasthan.

 

 
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