Officials said that the tip off must come before the wedding takes place, and that the informer's identity will remain anonymous.

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news Child Marriage Thursday, September 30, 2021 - 09:15

The Kerala government has initiated a new project titled ‘Ponvakk’ to curb child marriages. The government has decided to incentivise people who give tip offs to Women and Child Development Department on child marriages. As per the project, Rs 2,500 will be rewarded to each person who informs officials about child marriages before they get solemnised.  The government has already sanctioned Rs 5 lakh for the purpose for this year and it will continue in the coming years. The fund was handed over to District Women and Child Development Officers.

As per a recent Government Order, 258 child marriage prohibition officers in the state will inform people's represetatives and local self government institutions on the Ponvakk project. According to officials, the informer will be provided with the reward and their identity will remain anonymous. Also, money would be handed over in person and not through a bank account to maintain secrecy. If there is more than one informant, the person who tips authorities off first will be rewarded. Those who inform officials after the wedding will not be rewarded. The reward will be given only after it is proved that the information given was true.

Also, the concerned authorities were directed to display email IDs and phone numbers outside anganwadis, to inform officials on child marriages. Each case will have a separate reference number and an investigation based on that, officials said.

According to crime statistics of the police department, 21 cases of child marriage was registered from 2019 to July 2021. Reports from 2019 stated that there were more than 260 complaints against child marriages received. Since those weddings did not happen due to the involvement of Childline and other welfare organisations, a case was not registered. Reports said that 220 such child marriages were prevented after receiving tip offs.