Published: 29th September 2021
Childbirth in Karnataka's Udupi highlights prevalence of child marriages in several districts of the state
Most of the POCSO cases registered in Udupi district were due to child marriages involving couple from other districts, an activist from Karkala taluk of Udupi told The New Indian Express
A case of child marriage has come to light after Udupi District Child Protection Office (DCPO) in Karnataka helped their counterparts in Shivamogga file a case under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act against an 18-year-old boy. The case was filed after the boy's 17-year-old wife gave birth at district's Government MCH Hospital.
The girl, who hails from Shikaripura of Shivamogga district, delivered her child two weeks ago. DCPO Udupi staff notified their counterparts in Shivamogga about the incident who then filed a case against the boy under the POCSO Act. The girl has been sent to live with her parents along with her new born while the boy has been taken into custody for legal proceedings.
Udupi has a considerable chunk of migrant population. Over a past couple of years, there has been a general trend wherein underage 'married' couples arrive in Udupi in search of jobs from Gadag, Vijayapura and Bagalkot districts of the state where child marraiges are prevelant. The case only comes to light when the girl is delivered of a child at a district hospital, it is then that the authorities intervene and get police involved who then register it as a POCSO case. Just up until September this year, there have been 12 cases registered under the POCSO Act in the distrct. This is slightly higher than the last year as there were a total of nine cases registered under the act in the district.
Nisha Shetty, an activist from Karkala taluk of Udupi, who earlier worked in Childline Contact Center in Bengaluru told The New Indian Express that child marriages were very less in Udupi when compared to districts in North Karnataka. Most of the POCSO cases registered in Udupi district were due to child marriages involving couple from other districts, she added. Kumar Naik, the district child protection officer told TNIE that child marriages happening in the districts of North Karnataka has become a big challenge for the authorities in Udupi.
''In some cases, parents have sought to quash proceedings against the accused who face trial before the court and settle the matter by marrying their daughters to same person considering the future of the girl and the child in mind," Naik said. ''Once the girl attains the age of 18, they marry her off to the boy. This is a social issue and law alone cannot set right the matter," he added.