Stand against child marriage, Mamata tells Malda women

November-27-2013

Editorial Team With northern West Bengal’s Malda district earning notoriety for crib deaths, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday urged people not to marry off their daughters at an early age to prevent weak mothers and children. Speaking at a rally in Malda, Banerjee asked the people to avail of medical benefits provided by the government to curb crib deaths and advised them to allow their daughters to pursue studies. ‘Do not marry off your daughters before 18. Child marriage not only results in the girl becoming a weak mother, but often the child born is weak and in many cases we have seen them dying,’ she said, advising people to take care of pregnant women. She also said the number of women giving birth at home was the highest in the district, and urged people to avail of various government schemes. ‘Please avail of the government medical schemes and look after your daughters. Let them pursue higher studies,’ said Banerjee enumerating various women welfare schemes. Besides announcing a slew of projects for the district, Banerjee also said the region will soon get fair-price medicine shops as well as diagnostics centres where the services will be available at concessional rates. She also inaugurated a thalassemia unit in the Malda Medical College Hospital which has often been in the news for crib deaths. Dangers of child marriage The culture of child marriage is without a doubt one of the greatest drawbacks of our conservative culture. It’s simply wrong to force matrimony upon children who aren’t old enough to understand the implications of marriage. But then we aren’t a nation which seems very bothered about the daughters of our soil and we often equate women’s liberty with immorality. Other than that, child brides often face adolescent pregnancies which has a host of other implications. It’s estimated that four million girls between the ages of 15-19 give birth in India every year and pregnancies in that age are riddled with complications because the female body while capable of it, isn’t ready for the rigours of childbirth. Here are some of the common issues that riddle adolescent mothers-to-be and their unborn babies: Hypertension: They have a higher risk of suffering from hypertension during pregnancy than women in their 20s and 30s. They’re also likelier to suffer from pre-eclampsia (What is preeclampsia?). In pregnant women (including teens), hypertension can lead to a serious condition called preeclampsia where women start passing protein in their urine. This leads to the disease called eclampsia which is characterised by seizures and a coma. This condition also affects other vital organs like the kidneys, liver and brain. Anaemia: Caused due to lack of red blood cells which is usually due to nutrition deficiency like iron, vitamin B12, folic acid. The most common form is anaemia. Even women who’re older experience iron deficiency during pregnancy. (Read: There’s more to anaemia than just iron deficiency!) Postpartum haemorrhage: The term refers to a haemorrhage (bleeding) after delivering and is quite common among adolescent mothers. It’s caused due to the four Ts: Tone: Uterine atony or the inability of the uterus to contract leading to continuous bleeding. Trauma: From delivery which causes tear of tissues and vessels. Tissue: Retention of tissue from the placenta or foetus which leads to bleeding. Thrombin: Failure of clotting Premature birth: This has a host of complications including neonatal mortality (death within the first month) developmental disorders, respiratory complications, vision problems and heart-related issues. They’re also likelier to have a low-birth weight which is linked to neurological problems. They also suffer from hypoglycaemia (less glucose in the bloodstream). STDs: The chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases including HIV is much higher in adolescent girls because they have less say in who their sexual partner is, particularly in an orthodox country like ours. Many of them are married to men who they’ve never met before and have no clue about their sexual history. All in all adolescent pregnancies are a big menace and we need to curb the practice to safeguard the lives of our daughters, so that they too can live a completely fulfilling life.