INDIA: ‘Use age certificates to prevent child marriage'

Summary: An initiative to put a stop to child marriages in Bangalore proposes the compulsory demonstration of age certificates, electron identity cards or photo identity.

[BANGALORE, 24 January 2011] - The Karnataka Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KCPCR) has recommended that age certifcates of brides be sought from schools through block education officers to avoid child marriages.

The Commission said the easiest way was to seek a certificed copy of the admission register bearing the names of brides and bridegrooms.

In case, there was no schooling, the District Health Officer (DHO) should be contacted for age certificate and it must be issued after tests, said the Commission. 

They have also recommended limiting the number of marriages performed to 250 per event for the purpose of sanctity. 

The commission will formally put forward these recommendations before the government.

In October 2010, Sriramulu Abhimani Balaga organised 980 marriages and couples from 16 districts of the state registered. 

A Commission member, Mamata, attended the event and identified that 69 brides were underage and seized their documents. No marriage certificates were issued to them. 

"We found that most age certificates were issued by doctors from taluk hospitals, PHCs and school authorities," said Nina Nayak, chairperson of KSCPCR.

She said the Commission then wrote to the block education officers of these districts and received confirmation from schools that 31 girls were below 18 years and 27 of them were issued medical certificates by doctors.

On January 21, the Commission summoned doctors, heads of schools and child development officers for a hearing at Gadag.

"Many doctors admitted that they were issuing certificates on the basis of appearance and were under pressure from families of the bridestobe, etc." said Nayak. "There were also cases of impersonation and false statements that the girls were unschooled."

Shivanagouda of Sriramulu Abhimani Balaga said they asked for documents like marks cards, school certificates and doctors' certificates. 

"If they are unschooled then, we ask for the election identity card or a photo identity," he said.


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