T Bhoobalan

T Bhoobalan

Context: We will understand the role of T Bhoobalan (IAS officer) who helped address the issue of child marriages while serving as CEO of Bagalkot Zilla Parishad in Karnataka. 

• The case study is around July 2020. However, some of the information can be useful for your mains answers.

Issue – Child marriages
Cause? – Impact of lockdown and subsequent loss of livelihoods. Family were forced to marry off girls below 18 as a cost cutting measure. 

What did the IAS officer figure out?
• Bhoobalan quickly became versed with the regional issuesand found that child marriage is linked to other problems such as malnutrition, school dropouts, anaemia and maternal mortality. To solve these, he came up with a multipronged plan.

What steps were taken by the IAS officer and his team?
• He formed a committee of various government officialsand school teachers to spread awareness and educate the people about The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. 
• While taking meetings, the team also assured those calling in to report these marriages that their names will remain anonymous. Several brides don’t report as they fear their parents will not forgive them.
• The complainants were asked to either call the 1098 helpline or contact their designated local official directly. 
• The team was directed to work in unison to ensure swift rescue operations instead of waiting for the police to take action.
• A gram sabha committee consisting of only children was also formed to discuss the evils of child marriage, and what the kids can do if either they or their friends are a victim. They were also asked to spread the message at home.
• Jobs through MGNREGA so marriage isn’t the last resort left for children. 

• Close to 186 children were rescued from child marriages in Bagalkot
• Ten girls whose marriages had already taken place were directed to go back home and return to their inlaws’ home only after they turned 18.

Stakeholders involved
• Gram panchayat, Anganwadi workers, police officers, revenue officers and school teachers, children.

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