A 16-year-old girl pressured by her parents to marry a man twice her age was rescued by the child helpline members in J.P. Nagar on Wednesday.

The helpline was alerted when the teen managed to sneak a relative’s cellphone into the bathroom and called for help when her family was busy with the pre-wedding ceremonies. A team from Bosco, the child helpline, and the J.P. Nagar police rushed to the house and rescued the girl. A high school dropout, the girl is the daughter of a tender coconut vendor who has six children. Her parents wanted to get her married to a relative.

Initially, the family resisted the team saying the girl was a major, but they had to back off when she came forward to testify that she was being forced to marry. Her family then said they would send her to her husband only after she turned 18, but the girl said she did not want to stay with her parents and pleaded with her rescuers to take her with them. She was later taken to the Government Home for Girls and the parents have been summoned to the Child Welfare Committee for counselling.

“It was in the nick of time that we managed to save her as the family was about to leave for Chikka Tirupati for the wedding,” Jennifer, a member of the helpline, told The Hindu. They could reach in time as they were gifted a van by the Federal Bank on its 67th anniversary as part of its social responsibility program.

The helpline helped prevent three child marriages in the last couple of months, Bosco executive director Fr. P.S. George said.

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