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Ballari’s revised teen pregnancy statistics: 459 cases validated by district authorities

In the latest data reported by the Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) portal, Ballari witnessed a notable disparity between the figures mentioned online and the actual occurrences on the ground. According to the RCH portal, 966 teenage pregnancies were recorded in the district during the 2022-23 period, but upon investigation by the District Women and Child Welfare Department, only 459 cases were confirmed.

Vijayakumar, Deputy Director of the Ballari District Women and Child Welfare Department, shared that the survey uncovered inaccuracies in age entries for Mikavar on the RCH portal. He pointed out that Asha workers often classify pregnant women as teenagers based on surface observations, leading to a potential overestimation of teenage pregnancies.

Medical tests are deemed essential to accurately determine the age of pregnant women, and the reluctance of Asha workers to promptly register POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) cases upon discovering minor pregnancies was also acknowledged by District RCH Officer Dr. Anil Kumar R.

The RCH portal also highlighted that 13,477 girls in the state experienced pregnancy between April and March of the same year. Bangalore City took the lead with 1,334 cases, followed by Belgaum with 986, and Ballari ranking third at 966. In response to this, the District Women and Child Welfare Department initiated efforts to trace pregnant minors through Anganwadi employees. The subsequent survey, however, revealed a significant discrepancy between the portal data and the actual numbers verified by the department.

Identifying child marriage as a significant contributor to early pregnancies, Vijayakumar emphasized that many families identified by the department were financially vulnerable and expressed intentions of early marriage, potentially complicating the situation further. The issue of half of school dropouts being married off early was highlighted, underscoring the complex factors contributing to the occurrence of teenage pregnancies in the district.

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