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Police, officials stop function minutes before ‘muhurtham’

Minutes before the fixed hour on Sunday morning, city police and co-ordinators of the toll-free 24-hour intervention organisation ChildLine ‘1098’ stopped the marriage of a 16-year old girl to her relative, suspected to be in his late 20s, at a marriage hall in Adyar.

The helpline had received information of the arranged marriage of the girl, who had dropped out of the government school where she had enrolled in class XI. The marriage was stopped just ahead of the ‘muhurtam’ at 7:30 a.m., and the girl is currently under the care of Child Welfare Committee (CWC), a quasi-government agency. She will be counselled on Tuesday.

According to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, the minimum age for marriage is 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys. “We have not registered a case as it was not a forced marriage,” N. Mohanraj, assistant commissioner of Police, Adyar, said.

Agnes Shanti, chairperson of the CWC, said that the girl had scored 80% in her 10 standard exams and was willing to get married. “We are not against her marriage, but it is about the age at which she is getting married. We will encourage her to continue her education,” she added.

The family of the groom, from Indira Nagar in Adyar, had booked the marriage hall in Kasturba Nagar in Adyar a fortnight ago.

On Sunday morning, his family and the bridegroom’s family arrived at the venue around 7 a.m.

“The officials of the helpline asked us about the marriage on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, they stopped the marriage,” K. Chellapa, owner of the marriage hall, said. The officials, including a woman from the helpline, took the bride to a room and spoke to her, before taking her to CWC. The groom, a BBA graduate, works in a garment export company in the city.

Sunday’s incident is not the first one inside the city. According to CWC officials, this year alone, four such marriages were stopped in Vyasarpadi and Kodambakkam and one girl was rescued after the marriage took place in Royapuram.

The CWC officials said that the staff of marriage halls should ask for age proof of the groom and bride before accepting the advance.

Childline can be contacted by dialling 1098.

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