Women Development and Child Welfare (WD&CW) secretary K. Sunitha has directed anganwadi teachers and workers to develop their network in villages to prevent child marriages.

After collecting opinions from anganwadi staff, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) supervisors, District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) officials and Child Development Project Officers (CDPOs) of WD&CW on the reasons for child marriages, Ms. Sunitha said that anganwadi workers should take the lead in stopping child marriages.

“A small function will not happen without out the knowledge of the local anganwadi teacher and workers. If they alert their higher officials in advance, illegal weddings can be stopped at engagement or much before the ‘muhurtam,” Ms. Sunitha opined while speaking at a programme organised by NGOs, Plan India and Mahita, here on Friday

WD&CW Commissioner H. Arun Kumar said that teachers should enquire with the family members and friends when a girl skips classes for days together. The government was organising awareness programmes for girls to stop minor marriages, he said.

In 42 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas, Intermediate was being introduced and vocational training would be imparted in about 100 Model Schools from this year, Mr. Arun Kumar said.

State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) Chairperson G. Hymavathi said more than 25 government departments are working on child rights, protection, welfare and education, and stressed the need for coordination among the officials to stop the menace

Plan India senior programme manager Anitha Kumar said that Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS), Plan India and Mahita have conducted a study on child marriages, which were high in five districts in AP. The NGOs gave recommendations on how to stop child marriages, she said.

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