Updated: May 13, 2021 5:42:46 pm
At least 100 child marriages were prevented in the last four years by Rachakonda Police Commissionerate which has jurisdiction on the outskirts of Hyderabad. What is surprising is that the seven areas surrounding Hyderabad and Cyberabad from which the child marriages were prevented are highly urbanised with a large literate population.
Officials say these areas have a large number of schools and higher education institutes and most of the girls go to school. However, financial distress and apathy towards the education of a girl child make several families marry off the girls even before they turn 18.
Last year, there was an increase in child marriages in Telanagana as the lockdown and pandemic increased financial insecurity, with over 500 girls being rescued by the police or Women and Child Welfare Department.
The SHE teams under Police Commissioner Mahesh M Bhagwat have rescued 100 girls who were between 13 to 17 years old. “With the cooperation of self-help groups, we are creating awareness among people about prohibition of child marriages. In this awareness programme the SHE teams of Rachakonda made the public understand the problems of child marriages and the child marriages are more alarming in rural areas,’’ Bhagwat said.
The girls were rescued from Bhongir, Choutuppal, Ibrahimpatnam, Kishaiguda, LB Nagar, Malkajgiri and Vansasthalipuram. All these areas are highly urbanised but still some families choose to marry off their daughters even before they turn 18. In 2020, 22 child marriages were prevented while this year so far 8 child marriages have been prevented.
Officials said that in many instances, the girl herself or her friends tipped-off police about the impending marriage. Out of the girls rescued since May 2017, 40 were 17 years old; 31 were 16 years old; 20 were 15 years old; 6 were 14; and 3 were 13 years old.
Apart from informing people that performing marriages below 18 years was a crime, police also warn priests, wedding card printers, elders and supporters of the marriage and those who arrange it, and parents of the child who will be held responsible. “Whoever permits, supports, performs, helps, and attends will be accused hold under child marriage Act. Under Child marriage Prohibition Act of 2006, punishment is minimum 2 years imprisonment and Rs 1 lakh fine and even marriage mediators are also responsible,’’ an official said.
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