Rise in Child Marriages Leave Social Activists in Tamil Nadu Worried

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In one case, a Class 10 girl was married off to a 24-year-old youth who was her mother's brother. It may be noted that in Tamil Nadu among several Hindu sub-communities, marriages to mother's brothers are common.

CHENNAI — Social activists in Tamil Nadu are worried about the increase in child marriages in the state.

According to the activists, many cases are reported but more than around ten times of these cases go unreported.

A couple of days ago, the parents of a Class 9 girl student were booked by the Tenkasi police after information about her marriage with a 22-year-old youth was confirmed. Police said that the information was available after the student stopped attending classes. On a detailed inquiry by the school authorities, it was found that the girl was married off to a 22-year-old youth who was her distant relative.

The school administration brought the matter to the notice of the district child protection officer who lodged a formal complaint with the police and the parents of both the boy and girl were arrested. The boy was also arrested by the police.

In another incident at Tirunelveli, a Class 10 girl was married off to a 24-year-old youth who was her mother’s brother. It may be noted that in Tamil Nadu among several Hindu sub-communities, marriages to mother’s brothers are common.

Police got information after the local people informed the Child welfare officer who lodged a complaint to the police and when the parents of the girl were questioned, they spilled the beans. The girl was taken to a childcare home and the parents of the both boy and girl, her uncle, aunt, and the boy were arrested.

Sujith Narayanan, Director, of Child Knowledge Centre, an NGO working among children in Tiruchi while speaking to IANS said, “Child marriages are on a rise in Tamil Nadu. While there are more than ten marriages that are taking place in each district on average, in the whole state maybe two to five cases are reported which is totally a much lesser figure.”

He said that the government must enforce stringent action on the perpetrators of child marriage and also conduct a detailed awareness campaign against this.

It may be noted that during Covid -19 lockdown, a lot of children were married off and the child welfare department and several social organisations working among the children conducted an active campaign that led to the dip in figures. However, sources told IANS that there are many cases of child marriages on the rise but gross underreporting is taking place. — IANS

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