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Pradeep Pattanayak

The National Family Health Survey-5 report has brought some startling and disgraceful facts about the state of women and children in Odisha to the fore. 

According to the report, one married woman of 18-49 age group in every three women, or 33 percent of the total women of the said age group, has been subjected to domestic violence.     

Similarly, the report has placed Odisha at 10th position in the list of States notorious for spousal violence. While the spousal violence’s National average is 32 percent, the same in Odisha is higher than it. 

On the other hand, Chairperson of Odisha State Commission for Women, Minati Behera said several steps are being taken to check domestic violence. 

“We have taken up several programmes to create awareness among women so that they can get their rights. This apart, their complaints registered at various platforms like Sakhi Centre are being dealt with expeditiously,” said Behera. 

In case of girls attaining unwed motherhood and marrying within blood relations in Odisha, the figures again paint a grim picture. 
As per the survey, 13 percent women of 15-49 age group are marrying with someone from their blood relations, which is eighth highest in the country. While the National average is 11 percent, Tamil Nadu tops the list with 28 percent. 

Odisha has the dubious distinction of being at ninth position in case of unwed motherhood. During 2019-21, 7.5 percent girls of 15-19 age group attained unmarried motherhood. 

The organisations working for the safety of children and women have been blamed for such a trend. 

“Creating awareness about the changes taken place on a minor girl’s body when she attains motherhood is the need of the hour. But those who should carry out such steps avoid going to fields,” said a social activist Jayashree Mahapatra. 

However, the chairperson of the Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights ascribed the increasing trend of unwed motherhood to child marriage. 

“SHG women can play an important role in curbing child marriage. We will recommend about roping in of SHG women to work in this regard,” said Chiarperson of Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Sandhyabati Pradhan. 

The NFHS report is said to be a wake-up call for the State government to hit the ground running. 

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