Anusha* was always enthusiastic about her studies and so, she decided to join a Polytechnic course after completing her 10th class. Barely 3 months passed and she decided to tie the knot. With a disabled father, a lone working mother and the never supportive economic conditions of her family, made her take this harsh decision. Anusha isn’t the only one who is subject to such conditions. Around 39000 child marriages happen every day in India.
LEAF Society’s main area of operation is in and around the Namakal District of Tamil Nadu.
Child marriages are so prevalent in Nammakal district that even a Secretary of Panchayat (age 23) of Valavanthinadu had attempted to marry a 17-year-old. (Luckily, a team of Anti Trafficking Wing Police, Childline and revenue officials have stopped the marriage).It is a shocking reminder of the inhuman practices that still exist.
It all starts with reasons like parents being reluctant to spend money on education or a girl not passing the Board exams. Parents would prefer spending lakhs( hundreds of thousands) for a child marriage rather than for the education of their child. This money is often their entire life savings or obtained on a loan. Child marriages can be stopped when someone reports them to the Childline Helpline 1098. But the spectators of this evil practice feel that they will abolish the izzat (honour) of the family by doing so.
Geeta* (17) of Ernapuram, a topper in her class was forced to marry her uncle, a week before her exams. Why? Due to poverty. Circumstances like these often provoke families to get their daughters married at an early age.
Who can we blame then? Their parents for being unable to support them? Their circumstances? Who is responsible for their circumstances? Who can enhance their lives? Answers to these questions will have several shades of grey.
Parents of the children are not the only ‘culprits’. According to Child Prohibition act,
When a child marriage is performed, following people can end up in jail:
- one who prints the wedding invitation
- temple priest performing the wedding ceremony
- the owner of the marriage hall
As pointed out by the Director, S.L.Sathiya Nesan, the above mentioned people should ensure that they are involved in marriage process of an adult and not an innocent minor. If these people follow this minor precaution, then early marriages can be stopped before the children are pressurized to walk down the aisle.
Reaching out -1098
1098 Childline has played a vital role in eradicating this evil practice. During the year 2012-13, around 10 child marriages have been stopped. It had also conducted awareness programs and rallies on child rights. The efforts of the police and administration are also appreciable as they not only terminate the child marriages brought to their notice, but also publicize their contact numbers through media.
Future of these girls
The victims of child marriage (whose marriage was stopped) have managed to come out of the trap and have also proved their mettle.
- Megha* (17),who was supposed to get married to her uncle, is now the second topper in her school with 82.6 %
- Shanti* (16), daughter of a daily wage betel leaf collector, scored 81.33 %. She dreams of becoming a professor and also giving financial support to poor families so that the girls in those families don’t get married early. Noble thoughts indeed!
Sree is currently pursuing graduation in Computer Science.She loves playing volleyball,travelling,watching sitcoms and also,expressing her views.