The National Family Health Survey-5 report has brought to light startling and shameful facts about the situation of women and children in Odisha.
According to the report, one married woman in the age group of 18 to 49 out of three women, or 33% of the total number of women in said age group, has been a victim of domestic violence.
Likewise, the report placed Odisha at the 10th position in the list of states notorious for domestic violence. While the national average for domestic violence is 32%, the same in Odisha is higher than this.
On the other hand, the Chairperson of the Odisha State Commission for Women, Minati Behera, said that several measures are being taken to control domestic violence.
“We have launched several programs to sensitize women so that they can assert their rights. Apart from that, their complaints registered on various platforms like Sakhi Center are dealt with promptly,” Behera said.
In the case of girls becoming single mothers and marrying into blood relations in Odisha, the numbers again paint a grim picture.
According to the survey, 13% of women in the age group 15-49 marry someone of their blood relations, which is the eighth highest in the country. While the national average is 11%, Tamil Nadu tops the list with 28%.
Odisha has the dubious distinction of being in the ninth position when it comes to single motherhood. During the period 2019-2021, 7.5% of girls in the 15-19 age group became single mothers.
Organizations working for the safety of children and women have been blamed for such a trend.
“Creating awareness about the changes that occur to an underage girl’s body when she reaches motherhood is the need of the hour. But those who should take such steps avoid going to the fields,” said social activist Jayashree Mahapatra.
However, the chairman of the Odisha State Commission for Child Rights Protection has attributed the growing trend of single motherhood to child marriage.
“SHG women can play an important role in the fight against child marriage. We will recommend bringing in women self-help groups to work in this regard,” said Sandhyabati Pradhan, Chairperson of the Odisha State Commission for Child Rights Protection.
The NFHS report would be a wake-up call for the state government to get going.