HYDERABAD: While one girl was given an ultimatum to give in to a marriage or she wouldn’t be allowed to sit for her final examination, another was forced to marry someone much older because her father owed money to the groom’s family. This has been the fate of at least 93 other teenage girls within the city limits in the last one year, as per records of the city-based child rights NGO, Balala Hakkula Sangham(BHS).
On the occasion of Valentine’s day, on Wednesday, the NGO as part of its campaign urging law makers to change the legal age of marriage for girls from 18 to 21, reiterated the negative impact of child marriages. Four girls who were forced into marriage when they were 15 or 16 interacted with the media. Marriages should take place when there is love between two individuals and also mutual consent, they said.
“Parents are marrying off girls much before they turn 18 for baseless reasons. These four girls have been married off just like that and the point is to tell people that they too are humans and their emotions should be considered,” said Achyuta Rao, from BHS. Sharing her experience, one of the girls said, she was forced to marry her cousin by her father, as her aunt was unwell. A month after the wedding, the husband was caught having an illicit relationship with his sister-in-law. The shy girl expressed, “I was shocked and when I asked him what was happening, he abused me. I am yet to get an official divorce. He now says he is a changed man and wants me back, but for what?” she asked.
Another 18-year-old, was forced to get married when she was 16. She was told about the engagement only one day in advance. “The engagement was stopped by BHS following which my father hanged himself and died. People made me the reason for his death as I was adamant to study,” she shared. The NGO has been running the campaign pointing out to the mental and physical health implications that teenagers have to bear with when they are married off early.