Hyderabad: Child marriages are on the rise in Telangana. Despite the talk of increased awareness and better education and economic opportunities, the social evil continues unabated. A sizeable number of girls are being married off around 15 years' age even before they attain the legal marriageable age of 18 years. Consequently such children are being robbed of their precious childhood.

According to the National Crime Records' Bureau (NCRB) data, Telangana has seen a spike of 18 percent in the child marriage cases in the last one year. Although the Department for Women and Child Development of the Telangana government has prevented 3,342 cases of child marriage across the State in the last one year, the situation still remains grim.

It is commonly held belief that economic inequities and lack of education are the primary reasons for child marriage. However, in a depressing case, a 14-year old girl who was studying in a corporate school in Hyderabad was forced by her parents to marry a 42-year old man. The parents were lured by the groom by promising huge sums of money. Similarly, another girl from Telangana, who scored 9.8 GPA in Class X exams, was pressurised into marrying a 30-old year man. Thankfully, both these marriages were averted with the swift intervention of the authorities concerned.

This is not just confined to girls alone. Even boys are being married off before attaining the marriageable age of 21 years. Thirty eight percent of women in Telangana have become mothers before 19 years. Most of the child marriage cases are reported from tribal hamlets. But what is disturbing is that, such cases are also being reported from villages in Mahabubnagar, Nalgonda and Ranga Reddy adjoining Hyderabad metropolitan city.

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