Odisha To Be Child Marriage Free By 2030

Child marriage, which is a prevalent practice in Odisha, has been on the decline. The cases of a girl marrying before her 18th birthday have dropped in the state – reported being 21.3%, against the national average of 26.8%, whereas for boys it is only 11%, against the national average of 20.3%.

In the last year, regular intervention by authorities and social activists has prevented 411 child marriages involving mostly minor girls in Odisha. Between 2005 and 2015, there has been a decline of 16 and 11 percentage points for girls and boys marrying before their legal permissible ages of 18 and 21, as per National Family Health Survey (NFHS) reports.

“16% appears to be a small number. When it comes to the actual number, it is very high. Close to 1.4 lakh adolescent girls get pregnant before the age of 19 in Mayurbhanj,” said Dr Prasad, State Programme Coordinator of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Furthermore, in an aim to make Odisha child marriage free by 2030, the state government has started a Strategic Action Plan (SAP) with the assistance of UNICEF and UNFPA. The SAP was launched at a conference in Bhubaneswar, organized to prevent child marriage in Odisha through a comprehensive and time-bound approach.

The matter of concern is that the tribal population in Odisha is over 8 million, which constitutes of communities where child marriage is still a tradition. This remains a major issue in solving the problem. Statistically, there is no district in Odisha where there is not a single case of child marriage.

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