Marriage of minor girls STOPPED in Puducherry

Marriage of minor girls STOPPED in Puducherry

PUDUCHERRY: The Child Welfare Committee (CWC) has successfully stopped the marriage of minor girl in the Union territory of Puducherry. The committee, with the help of the police and social welfare department officials, gave the custody of the Class 11 girl to a children’s home and shifted her to a new school to prevent her mother and relatives from forcing her into wedlock. The girl will return to her mother when she turns 18. CWC chairwoman Vidyaa Ramkumar told TOI that a teacher of a government higher secondary school approached Villianur police on Friday stating that one of his students, a 16-year-old girl, was being forced to marry a 22-year-old man against her wish. The teacher revealed that the mother of the girl and relatives had scheduled her marriage with the man, related to her, for Sunday. The girl lost her father a few years ago. Police alerted Vidyaa, who along with a probationary officer and a protection officer from social welfare department visited Karikalpattu village and met the relatives of the girl and the man with whom the marriage was to be solemnised. They counselled them on the ill effects of child marriage, besides warning them of legal action. “We succeeded in convincing the relatives of the girl and man to call off their marriage as the girl is a minor. However, the girl’s mother was very adamant initially. She went on to the extent of emotionally blackmailing her daughter that she will commit suicide if the marriage was stopped. It was then we decided to give the custody of the girl to a home and shift her to a new school. The girl will return to her mother when she turns 18,” Vidyaa said. She added that this was the third incident of child marriage reported in the Union territory since she assumed charge in January last year. “Unfortunately we could not stop the marriage of two minor girls as we got the information late. But this time with the support of police and social welfare department officials we succeed in stopping the marriage,” she said. While appealing to parents not to force minor girls into wedlock, Vidyaa encouraged girls to alert the committee using childline’s helpline number 1098. The committee has been convening regular meetings with the police and the officials of the territorial administration to alert them if they come across children in distress. “The social welfare department did not have probationary officer and protection officer whose services are needed to stop marriages of minor girls until the committee stepped in and urged the government to appoint the officers,” she said.   ———– SOURCE: TIMES OF INDIA

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