Mumbai recorded its seventh case of attempted child marriage this year in Shivaji Nagar last week. On a tip-off from a social worker to Childline, WCD department and police reached the venue just before the marriage could be solemnised.
Between 2016 and 2019 the city officially recorded no case of child marriage. WCD officials said in most cases this year the pandemic and subsequent economic losses have forced several families to marry teenage daughters before they can turn adult.
In the latest case the 15-year-old girl in tenth class was slated to be married to a 23-year-old man who works in a call centre in Diva. Her grandmother, aged 69, unable to support her and her elder brother, had started begging for food on the streets of Shivaji Nagar to feed them. “The girl’s father died just before the pandemic and her mother had died a few years ago. The grandmother was unable to get domestic work,” said Prajakta Desai, child protection officer. The minor’s elder brother is in college.
On November 25, the date of marriage, WCD and Tilak Nagar police officials reached the venue and found the girl ready in a bridal dress. “There was a lot of resistance from her grandmother and relatives. She said the girl will stay with her until she turned 18. But we had to stop the marriage,” Desai said.
Last week the minor was produced in front of CWC. She has been asked to continue her education in BMC school through online classes. WCD officials have assured the girl education and financial support. CWC plans to visit her every month to monitor whether a second attempt at marriage is made.
Tilak Nagar police registered an FIR against the grandmother. “When we intervened in the function, we had to counsel the family that minors are not allowed to be married. The grandmother said she had no money to feed her and her brother,” said Shobha Shelar, deputy WCD officer in Mumbai Suburbs.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines