Ours is an organisation that works among orphans and vulnerable children. We have found that in spite of stringent laws against child marriage, there are girls less than 15 who are married off with the understanding between families that they will be allowed to continue schooling. Lawyers defend the family members who arrange such marriages saying we need to be humane in our approach.
When we raised the Melur instance with some young girls in our child development centre, they said the teacher’s decision of denying class XI admission to two married girls was right as it would act as a deterrent against child marriages. They also pointed out how, at a time when girls without boyfriends are teased by others, the presence of married girls in schools would set a bad precedent. It would motivate other girls to take similar decisions. That said, the two child brides who have shown interest in studies should be given an opportunity to continue their studies.
J. Mary Julie,
The two young girls are of a tender age. They completed class X from the same school. Will not the staff and students, and the two girls themselves, feel uneasy if they study there? The principal is right in denying admission to the girls. They can study through distance learning.
The principal’s decision was apparently taken on the basis of the impact of the married girls on co-students. If only the principal, instead of being authoritative and mechanistic in her approach, can act as a responsible teacher, she can help the young girls overcome their social compulsions.
She can convince other students that child marriage is a social evil and persuade them to resist the practice in their community.
Keywords: Child marriage