A 14-and-a-half-year-old girl, set to join class X on June 1 after summer vacation, was betrothed on Sunday to marry a 29-year-old man but the Childline and Social Welfare Department officials made a timely intervention and rescued the prospective child bride.
The engagement of the girl, a student of Kakur Government Higher Secondary School, with K. Ramesh (29) of Kamatchipuram in Kadaladi block, was held at the girl’s place at Aagalakuruchi near Mudukulathur on Sunday morning, and within minutes, a person informed Childline helpline ‘1098’ about the marriage fixed for June 4.
Acting swiftly, the officials visited the village on Monday and after ascertaining the facts, they met the parents of the girl and the man on Tuesday and obtained written undertakings that they would not go ahead with the marriage and allow the girl to continue her studies.
Led by Childline head T. Naganathan, its member S. Kangaraj and Social Welfare Department Extension Officer V. Shanmugasundari summoned the parents and warned them against conducting the marriage in the presence of Village Administrative Officer M. Saranya and village head Ramalingam.
Mr. Kanagaraj said the two families were aware that the marriage was illegal and decided to conduct the marriage in a hush-hush manner and avoided printing invitations. After conducting the engagement, they informally agreed to conduct the marriage at a local temple and invite only close relatives in the two villages, he said.
An informal talk with the girl revealed that she was forced into the marriage by her mother.
Her father has gone abroad for employment, Mr. Kanagaraj said.
The officials asked the VAO and the village head to keep a watch and ensure that the proposed marriage would not take place on June 4.
They also asked the school head to inform them if the girl dropped out.
As next month had many ‘Muhurtham days’, the school head had been asked to keep a watch on girls dropping out, he said.