HYDERABAD:Not so far from the emerging global city Hyderabad, Rachakonda police have stopped 24 child marriages in the past 11 months in areas like Bhongir and Choutuppal, which fall under the erstwhile Nalgonda district.
After receiving repeated complaints about child marriages, SHE Teams from Rachakonda have been to several villages and tribal hamlets located in Choutuppal and Ibrahimpatnam among other areas, to increase awareness among the public about the ill-effects and laws related to women safety. On International Women’s Day last year (March 8,, 2017), the SHE Teams prevented a child marriage at Valigonda village in Choutuppal mandal and rescued a 17-year-old girl whose marriage was fixed with a 23-year-old man.
A series of awareness campaigns led to police intervention for another 23 times in the next 11 months till February 27 this year. The police stopped 24 child marriages and rescued the girls, a 13-year-old being the youngest of them who hailed from Dharmaram village. The police said that parents of girl children in rural areas are more worried about giving dowry and also finding a good groom. Hence, many of them are performing the marriage of their under-aged daughters as and when they find a suitable boy. The non-existence of girls’ hostels in rural areas is also observed as one of the reasons behind the child marriages. Even if the parents want to provide higher education to the girls, they do not find suitable conditions and get their children married off, said Rachakonda police commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat.
Nalgonda ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) official Shayamala said, “During counseling of parents, it is noticed that being a single parent and poor financial conditions are forcing them to marry off their under-age children. After schooling and Intermediate, parents are worried about daughter’s safety and do not want to send them to distant colleges.”
Answering a query, the official also said there were instances where people get their under-age children married off due to the love affairs. “There was an incident at Mothkur where the parents of a girl wanted to perform her marriage due to a relationship,” said Shyamala. She also informed that the state is bringing up a new rule of compulsory marriage registration, during which ages of the bride and groom would be identified.
Prevention a call away
A dedicated WhatsApp number ‘9490617111’ is available for the public to raise complaints on child marriages
Even mediators, anybody who participate in or perform such marriages and wedding card printers will also be prosecuted under the Act
Accused face imprisonment up to two years and a fine of `1 lakh