Over 11,000 child marriages stopped in TN between 2015-20, 586 FIRs registered under Act

However, compared to the number of cases of child marriage prevented in the State, the number of cases filed under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act is low.

Published: 03rd August 2021 10:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th August 2021 11:26 PM   |  A+A-

Child marriage

Representational image (Express Illustration| Amit Bandre)

Express News Service

KRISHNAGIRI : A total of 11,553 child marriages have been stopped in the State between 2015 to 2020, revealed the reply to an RTI query filed by social activist S Prabhakar. Of this, 3,208 child marriages were stopped in 2020, which is 999 cases more than in the previous year, However, only a handful of cases were registered under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.

Prabhakar, who previously worked with an UNICEF-CRY child marriage prevention project in Krishnagiri, had sought details under the RTI from the Department of Social Welfare and Women Empowerment recently regarding reported child marriage cases and FIRs registered under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act. 

The reply revealed that the number of child marriage cases prevented increased steadily, from 1,209 cases in 2015 to 3,208 cases in 2020 in Tamil Nadu in 32 districts.  In the past six years, Dharmapuri has prevented a total of 902 early marriages. Theni has prevented 734 child marriages and Salem 720. The fewest cases were prevented in Nilgiris (65), Kanniyakumari (78) and Nagapattinam (79).

However, compared to the number of cases of child marriage prevented in the State, the number of cases filed under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act is low.

A total of 586 FIRs have been filed in six years across the State under the Act, out of which, Perambalur district has filed the highest number of FIRs — 140. Trichy has filed 80, while Madurai has filed 62. However, Krishnagiri and Pudukkottai have reported zero FIRs under the Act, according to the RTI reply. 

Prabhakar opined, "There is no rapport or coordination among the departments to control or prevent the early marriages. A District Social Welfare Officer (DSWO) is the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer (CMPO) for each district and they fail to cooperate with Childline, education department, child protection unit, police and other departments.”

He also pointed out, during his tenure for a year in Krishnagiri with the UNICEF- CRY project, a DSWO failed to ensure that an FIR was filed in many cases. “When the social welfare department receives information, a team will go to the spot and get a letter from the concerned parents that they will not conduct the marriage but within a day or week, the parents would get their daughter married,” he added.

About why FIRs have not been registered under the Act in Krishnagiri and Pudukkottai for the past six years, Krishnagiri District Social Welfare Officer Poonkuzhali said she had received information of 141 cases of child marriage from 2019. Among them, 130 were stopped, five were false complaints and FIRs were registered in six cases, she said, adding that she did not know when they were registered.

Similarly, Pudukkottai DSWO ( in-charge) Renuka said that a few FIRs were registered but alleged that data provided by the Social Welfare and Women Empowerment department might be wrong. 

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