HYDERABAD: It is not just the mercury that rises between March and June. Summer is also synonymous with marriages, and to some extent, child marriages too in the State. The women and child welfare department has been receiving increasing number of alerts, about child marriages from different parts of the State in the last two months.
Often, the officials are informed about impending child marriages soon after the ‘engagment’ - this helps, in the sense that they can swing into action before the payment of dowry to the groom’s side.
Though action is taken after confirming the details, sometimes, officials face very hostile parents.
“We stopped one such marriage on Saturday night. The Class IX girl was to be married on Sunday. Her parents almost assaulted us! We had to call in the police to stop the marriage,” said Jyothi Padma, child development project officer, Qutbullapur mandal.
In Hyderabad, two child marriages were thwarted in the last one week - one of a 13-year-old girl and the other of a 16-year-old. In the neighboring Ranga Reddy district, however, officials admit many child marriages may have gone unnoticed.
Ranga Reddy district child protection officer, Panuganti Satish Babu, said marriages of minor children increase from March to June and also during festivals. “Sometimes, we stop marriages at the venue. But family members and local leaders get together to prevent us. Some parents fear their children may fall in love, if not married early!,” said M Vijay Bhaskar, child protection officer.
Some parents perform the marriage away from public eye to avoid being caught. “Because of awareness, parents are not performing marriages in public places,” said K Shyama Sundari, joint director (schemes), women and child and welfare department.
She said marriages of children, in the age group of 11 to 14, has come down, but increased in the age group of 15 to 18.