Child marriages have become an issue of concern for the district administration, police, other departments and the organisations involved in saving minor girls from the clutches of it. But for their combined and timely action, as many as six girls who were aged less than 18 would have become victims of this evil practise in about a week’s time.

“Five of the marriages were arranged for girls who completed their Plus Two this year and the other was for a girl who completed her Plus One,” Director of Childline 1098 in Namakkal district S.L. Sathiya Nesan told The Hindu . He said that child marriage was prevalent across the district.

After interacting with the girls whose marriages were stopped, he observed that not one girl was interested in getting married.

“Children are under the care of their parents till they grow into adults.

Sadly, parents fail to realise that they should protect the girls till they are 18 years old and not push them into child marriage. Parents are not ready to spend any more for their education but spent at least more than a lakh for the marriage of their dear ones,” he observed.

According to him, under the Child Marriage Prohibition Act everyone involved in the marriage – one who prints the wedding invitation, temple priest performing the wedding ceremony and the owner of the marriage hall – will be arrested. All the child marriages have invitations, a priest to perform the ceremony, followed by a reception in a marriage hall. Sadly not one of these marriages were reported by the above said persons,” he lamented.

He added that so far no action has been initiated against them for not taking it to the notice of the officials or organisations concerned. “They should be strictly instructed to verify the age of the bride and the groom before involving themselves in the marriage process or to face legal consequences. This could help prevention of such marriages at a much earlier stage and to save more girls from this social evil,” Mr. Sathiya Nesan concluded.

The police and administration feel that efforts taken by them to put an end to child marriages by publicising contact numbers of the officials to report marriages of underaged girls through the media was not in vain.

“Earlier, persons who knew about a child marriage being performed in their vicinity did not disclose any information on the same to stop them as they felt that they were doing harm to the family by informing us. But awareness has now increased among them as we are getting more calls to stop such marriages,” they said.

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