Bhuvaneshwari Kathiravan (15) was due to marry S. Bhaskar (35) on May 28. Her father, K. Kathiravan Maistry, 37, a poor construction worker, had fixed the marriage against her wishes.
A day before her marriage, Bhuvaneshwari ran away from her home in Aragalur village, 430 km west of Chennai, travelled 80 km to Salem town and walked into the district collector’s office to lodge a complaint.
“My parents tried to marry me off to a 35-year-old man despite my opposition,” she told the collector, J. Chandra Kumar,
who handed over the case to Superintendent of Police N.M. Mayilvaganan.
“I want to continue my studies,” the girl, who recently passed her Class 9 exams, told the police officer. “It is my dream to qualify for the Indian Police Service.”
“The predicament of her parents is typical of poor rural families. Bhuvaneshwari is the eldest of three daughters. Given the social pressures, Kathiravan was anxious to marry her off at the earliest,” Mayilvaganan said. “When he received a
proposal from Bhaskar, a manager at a petrol pump, he grabbed it with both hands, despite the age gap.”
“Everyone said it was a good proposal though the boy was elderly and from another caste,” said Kathiravan.
He said he was unaware that child marriage is illegal and punishable under the law. The age of consent for marriage is 21 for boys and 18 for girls.
The SP told the family that if they proceeded with the wedding, they’d be prosecuted. After negotiations, it was decided that Bhaskar would marry Bhuvaneshwari’s 20-year-old cousin instead.
On his part, Bhuvaneshwari’s father said he would support his daughter in whatever she chose to do.