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0 in 2016, 42 in 2019, forced marriages in Kerala on rise

While no such case was registered in  2016, the number rose to three in 2017, 10 in 2018 and 42 in 2019. 

Published: 27th October 2020 03:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th October 2020 03:15 AM   |  A+A-

Child marriage

Representational image (Express Illustration| Amit Bandre)

Express News Service

KOCHI:  In 2017, a woman grabbed attention when she walked out of her marriage minutes after tying the knot at the Guruvayur temple. Many hailed her for resisting her family’s move to force her into a marriage against her will. That, however, was just one of several instances of forced marriage in the state in recent years.

An analysis of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data reveals a big rise in the number of forced marriages in Kerala in 2019, compared to the previous year. While no such case was registered in  2016, the number rose to three in 2017, 10 in 2018 and 42 in 2019. 

The NCRB data has listed human trafficking as one of the purposes of forced marriages.

In the Guruvayur incident, Kerala State Women’s Commission chairperson M C Josephine was the first to intervene and support the woman who faced abuses on social media.

“We stood by the woman who showed the courage to walk away from a marriage fixed against her will. The commission will take all measures to protect women who protest against forced marriages. If any woman feels her family is forcing her into a marriage, she can approach us,” Josephine said.

Among the southern states, Kerala has recorded the highest number of forced marriage cases (42) in 2019, compared to zero in Tamil Nadu and Telangana, one in Karnataka and 14 in Andhra Pradesh.

N P Hafiz Mohamad, sociologist and Calicut University sociology department coordinator, said the steady increase in the number of forced marriage cases shows that women in Kerala have started standing up to their parents who unilaterally fix marriages.

“Women these days prefer to be independent even if they don’t get any support from their families. They are focused more on education, and are not ready to jeopardise their careers for marriages fixed by parents against their will,” Hafiz said.

He cited Kerala’s efficient policing system for the increased reporting of cases of forced marriage.

Forced child marriages also prevalent

Meanwhile, officials with the state department of women and child development say there is a high prevalence of forced marriages among children too.

Between January 2019 and July this year, 266 complaints of child marriages were received, of which 220 were prevented. “A mindset exists among people in Kerala that they need to marry off their female children as early as possible,” said Anupama T V, director, women and child development.

 “We have cases across the state. Many child marriages were prevented with children showing the courage to report the matter to their teachers,” 



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