New initiative to end child marriages

Ponvakk project, which will pay reward to informants, will be given publicity

In its attempts to curb child marriages, the government has decided to sensitise the public on the ill-effects of such alliances and publicise the Ponvakk project for preventing them.

Worried by the failure to report child marriages, the government had earlier decided to incentivise tip-offs by the public to the Women and Child Development Department that will help prevent such marriages. As part of Ponvakk, a reward of ₹2,500 will be given to those who inform the department of such marriages before they are solemnised.

An amount of ₹5 lakh has been sanctioned by the government for granting the incentive to the informers, and funds were handed over to the District Women and Child Development Officers for implementing the project this year.

All 258 child marriage prohibition officers in the State have been directed to inform people’s representatives, officials of local self-government institutions, and the public about the Ponvakk project and on receiving information about such marriages, take immediate steps to prevent them.

Steps have also taken to ensure that the identity of informers is kept a secret. The District Women and Child Development Officer will hand over the reward only if details are provided in advance of the marriage and proven true. Those who provide information after the marriage will not be eligible for the reward. If there is more than one informant, those who provide the details first will be given the incentive.

Directions have also been given to set up an e-mail address in each district on which information can be provided. The e-mail id and phone number should be displayed in anganwadis, besides being widely disseminated.

Each complaint should be allotted a special case number that will be used as a reference number.

Last month, the department had directed all child marriage prohibition officers to take action if they got information from authorities or owners of wedding halls or mandapams that a child marriage was taking place.

The action against child marriages comes in the wake of the department receiving 266 complaints of child marriage during the period from January 2019 to July 2020. As many as 220 marriages were prevented.

Source: Read Full Article