Problems faced when stopping child marriages discussed
Though 26 child marriages, eight in the city alone, were stopped in the district in the past 10 months, not a single complaint has been lodged with police.
As per law, it is a cognizable offence and a non-bailable one, with parents and persons who solemnize the child marriage being given two years imprisonment if found guilty. Hence it is essential that child marriages should be reported for the welfare for the society.
This was the core point of discussion at a meeting on ‘Child Protection and Welfare’, organised by the Salem District Legal Service Authority and Salem Childline 1098 here on Saturday.
Panelists included A. Naseema Banu, Mahila Court District Judge; G. Kalavathi, Secretary, District Legal Service Authority; M.K. Rabi, Judicial Magistrate 1; S. Lakshmi, JM 2; M. Megala Maythili, JM 3; N. Vijayalakshmi, JM 4; C.M. Saravanan, JM 4 and child welfare officers. The meeting saw panelists discuss problems related to child marriage and rescuing of children from such situations.
Elaborate discussions were held on problems faced while rescuing children, either because of harassment or bonded labour, kidnapped and missing children, child labourers and prevailing laws relating to these offences.
When Childline members pointed out that during child rescue, entries were not made in ‘General Diary’, maintained in each police station, special guest, City Police Commissioner K.C. Mahali said that awareness would be created among all police personnel and entries would be made in accordance with the procedures laid out.
P. Balamurugan, Child Protection Consultant, Salem District, UNICEF said that 95 per cent of the child marriages in the district were happening to government school dropouts and called for creating awareness among parents and students about the laws.
“Though parents justify their stand, the effects of child marriages should be explained,” members added.
Judicial Magistrates spoke about the existing laws, various sections that protect children and stringent punishment available for violations.
Also discussed were Juvenile Aid Police Unit (JAPU) and coordination of the police department and the judiciary for protection of children.
Members also wanted continuous monitoring of rescued children and welfare measures for their upliftment in the society through education and employment.
Earlier, Ruby Thyagarajan, Nodal Director, Childline, Salem welcomed the gathering, while Amalorpavaraj, Director, Service Centre, Childline proposed vote of thanks.