TIRUCHY: Live-in relationships between adults seem to be passé. To dodge legal complications arising from child marriages, parents in Tiruchy district appear to have come up with a new ploy — ‘live-in’ relationships between children.
Child rights activists and stakeholders now face this new challenge as child marriages are reportedly being solemnised in secrecy under the guise of ‘live-in’ relationships. Though somewhat common in metros, the trend is fast catching up in Tiruchy district, which witnesses more such marriages.
Such ‘live-in’ kid couples commence their journey without the ‘Thaali’ till the girl turns 18. Social welfare officials said they came across four such cases in the last two months.
P Sheela, a lawyer and social worker, said the most common reasons for child marriages are traditional practice, growing demands for dowry and pressure from relatives to solemnise the marriage of girl children.
“Once parents hand over their daughters to their in-laws or make them live-in partners, they feel their responsibility is over. In a bid to prevent minor live-in relationships, the government, with the help of NGOs, should intensify awareness campaigns among rural people. In the current scenario, amendments in child marriage laws are inevitable,” said Sheela. “Handling minor live-in relationship cases is tough as we can’t get evidence of the solemnisation of marriage. In the last two months, we identified four such cases but during inquiry, the parents said the girls were staying with their uncles or aunts to continue their studies. So we could not initiate legal action against them,” said S Usha, district social welfare officer.
J Godwin Prem Singh, director, Childline Nodal Organisation, said, “Only neighbours may identify such relationships in a family. Hence, the Neighbourhood Community Intervention model... should be introduced to curb minor live-in relationships.”