Teenager thwarts parents' plot to marry her off due to lockdown poverty

The police intervened and got her parents to sign a written declaration that the teenager would not be married off before she turned 18.

Published: 29th June 2020 06:38 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th June 2020 07:00 PM   |  A+A-

Child Marriage

For representational purposes (Express Illustrations)

By Express News Service

KOLKATA: Teenage daughter of a mason, stricken by poverty due to Covid-inducted lockdown, sought help from the local police in East Midnapore district and derailed her father’s plan to get her married off at the age of 15. The Class-X board examinee wrote a letter to the cops disclosing her parents’ intention and her aim to study further.

The police intervened and got her parents to sign a written declaration that the teenager would not be married off before she turned 18.

The silent but courageous move by the girl was witnessed by the residents of Egra, a semi-urban sub-division, two days ago. They came to know the teenager’s willpower to pursue studies when policemen turned up at her house. "The girl’s marriage was organised clandestinely. None of us who are living in the same area was invited. We came to know when the policemen visited the girl’s house two days before her marriage date was fixed, on June 30," said one of the girl’s neighbours.

The teenager’s parents confessed before the cops that they wanted to shield her from their poverty. "We have food to eat because of supplies from the ration shop. But I have no source of income to afford her education. The boy who agreed to marry her is a private firm employee in Kolkata and his family did not ask for dowry. We agreed because we thought it would at least ensure her a secured future," the father of the girl said.

ALSO READ: Over 500 cases of child marriages reported since mid-March in West Bengal

As soon as her marriage was fixed, the girl was looking for an opportunity to seek help from the police. She, somehow, managed to leave home for half-an-hour and visited the local police station.

"She wrote a letter describing how she was under pressure from her parents to get married and how their parents did not care about her education. She dropped the letter in the complaint box. We acted promptly as soon as we accessed the letter," said an officer of Egra police station.

Recently, several NGOs, in a petition, submitted reports to the Kolkata High Court mentioning nearly a 30 per cent increase in child marriages across the state. The court asked the state juvenile justice committee to come up with the exact number of child marriages during the lockdown period in the state.

Officials in the East Midnapore district child welfare office said 19 cases of child marriage were reported to them during the lockdown and the count was in sharp contrast to three child marriages reported during the first three months this year.


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