THE MAHARASHTRA State Child Rights Commission (CRC), taking serious note of the 13 child marriages solemnised in Shirur Kasar Tehsil of Beed between 2017 and 2018, has decided to conduct a suo motu hearing in the matter. Activists alleged that the administration and the police were intimated about the marriages, yet no action was taken.
Last week, an NGO Lek Ladki Abhiyan had conducted a grievance hearing about the issues minor girls face at Shirur Kasar tehsil in Beed district. During the hearing, school-going girls narrated the difficulties they faced. Lack of proper roads and public transportation were among the top complaints. Girls said they had to walk 4-5 kms every day to reach schools and they didn’t feel safe on their way back home. “Poor” quality of education and unsafe school buildings were among other complaints.
“Most of the residents of Shirur Kasar are seasonal labourers, who migrate to Western Maharashtra to work in sugarcane fields in the production season of sugar factories. Almost 80 per cent couples in the area are away from homes for at least 5 to 6 months every year. As they are worried about the safety of their girls, unwanted marriages at the age of 13-17 and the early pregnancies are common,” Advocate Varsha Deshpande, founder of Lek Ladki Abhiyan, stated in press release issued on Tuesday.
In their report to the CRC, Deshpande, along with other activists of Lek Ladki Abhiyan, claimed to have informed the local administration and the police about the 13 child marriages that took place in the tehsil between 2017 and 2018. Police officers, however, claimed that the marriages were performed secretly and the facts were latter denied.
Meanwhile, CRC Chairperson Pravin Ghuge, along with other members Santosh Shinde and Dr Shalini Karad, said the commission has taken serious note of the matter and has decided to conduct a suo motu hearing in all 13 incidents. They also directed the officials of the state transport corporation and the health and education department to act on the grievances the girls had shared.