CHENNAI: In a case of how technology can help preserve little dreams, the marriage of a 15-year-old girl – arranged against her wishes — was stopped through an SOS her friend sent through a newly-launched mobile app that aims to prevent child abuse.
Nirmala*, a Class VIII dropout, works in a spinning mill in her remote village in Dindigul district. She feared losing the little freedom in her life when her parents arranged for her wedding with a 24-year-old youth from a neighbouring village, scheduled to happen on March 6.
“Nirmala told her friend Vanitha* that she did not want to get married and was hoping against hope for some miracle,” recalls S Annadurai, managing trustee of Child Voice, an NGO that works in the village for child rights. And the miracle happened just two days ahead of the marriage.
Another girl in the village, who is part of the Adolescent Action Group of the NGO, came to know about it when the family started inviting people in the village for the wedding. “We spun a yarn about some government welfare scheme for the teens and managed to persuade her parents to share documents that provided Nirmala’s age proof,” said the teenaged girl.
The NGO members then uploaded the documents in the Child Rights Monitor app, recently launched in Chennai by UNICEF and Mary Anne Charity Trust.
“We immediately forwarded the complaint to the concerned enforcement officials in the districts, who acted on it and stopped the marriage,” says S Cyril Alexander, executive director of the trust.
Baskara Pandian, president of the village panchayat told Express, that the parents gave a written undertaking that they will not push Nirmala for child marriage again.
“The children and their parents in the village gave it in writing that they will ensure no child marriage happens in the village again,” claims Hema, another member of Child Voice, who helped the girl.
*Names changed to protect identity