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WB offers free condoms for couples who register marriage

M Chhaya in Kolkata | May 13, 2005 18:51 IST

West Bengal is handing a gift hamper of contraceptives to every newly wed couple who register their marriage.

State Health Minister Suryakanta Mishra says the incentive scheme would encourage more people, particularly those from the countryside, to register their marriages.

Currently, less than a 10th of the marriages in villages are registered.

The Supreme Court recently asked the central and state governments to explore the possibility of making the registration of marriages, like birth and death, mandatory.

West Bengal has, however, already embarked upon the project to make the registration of marriages compulsory.

"We are trying to make it compulsory. Also, to ensure people respond willingly, we have thought of an incentive for registering marriages," the health minister said.

The gift hampers would contain literature on how to lead a healthy life, and several packs of male contraceptives.

But does the government have the infrastructure to implement its intentions of making registration of marriages mandatory?

"We are sending at least one marriage registrar to every block," Mishra said, adding that with time the number of officials would increase.

The minister claimed to have made encouraging progress with getting births and deaths registered.

"All births are now registered," he said pointing out that the registration of deaths was lower in comparison.

The state government is also encouraging expecting mothers to have their babies delivered in hospitals. "To encourage this, we plan to give away gifts to the mothers and their newborns," Mishra said.

It couldn't immediately be known what those gifts would be.

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