Officials attached to the District Social Welfare Office (DSWO) stopped two child marriages just a few hours before the ceremony and saved minor girls, including a 15-year-old. However, their efforts to prevent two other marriages of young girls, both well below 18 years, were futile reportedly due to lack of coordination and communication between the Social Welfare and Police departments. Following a tip-off that two minor girls aged 15 and 17 were to be married off, officials acted swiftly and stopped the marriages.
Parents of a 15-year-old Vanitha of Jolarpet, had fixed her marriage with 24-year-old Suguvanan for June 1. However, police, acting on the information of the DSWO, summoned the families of the bride and the groom and warned them against proceeding with the marriage. “We have obtained a written assurance from both families that they would not go ahead with the marriage,” said District Social Welfare Officer P Gomathi.
Similarly, another marriage was stopped after a petition was received by Katpadi DSP K Radhakrishnan a few days ago, about the marriage of Sunitha, a +1 passout from Nadumottur near Pallikuppam.
“The petition clearly stated that the girl was interested in continuing her studies and had even attempted suicide twice to stop the marriage. However, her parents were adamant to marry her off to a 24-year-old CRPF personnel,” the DSP said, adding that he had warned the parents of both the bride and the groom.
“The petition was forwarded to the Social Welfare Office for further action. The parents have also given an assurance in writing that they will not marry off their daughter without her consent,” he added. Though the efforts of the police paid off in these two cases, they failed to stop another child marriage despite receiving information from Social Welfare officials hours before the ceremony.
“I alerted the Vaniyambadi town police about the marriage of a 16-year-old girl, Lakshmi, around 9.30 pm on Wednesday, but they failed to stop the marriage that took place at Mullai village near Alangayam on Thursday,” said the DSWO.
Later, the Vaniyambadi All Women Police registered a case against three persons under section 5 and 6 of the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929. In yet another case, officials have launched a search for parents of another minor girl, Sudha of Reddiyur, for marrying off their daughter. Parents of both the bride and the groom reportedly absconded after the marriage on Thursday morning.
(Names of the girls have been changed)