Political intervention ensured that a private school had to re-admit a 17-year-old girl it had asked to leave — for getting married a year before reaching the legal age.
Authorities at the Saint Ann’s Higher Secondary School in Cuddalore, about 150 km south of Chennai, had first ‘suspended’ R. Indumathy and later given her a transfer certificate, saying “we cannot accept the marriage” and that it could be a “distraction” for other students.
Indumathy had married her maternal cousin, Balan, on June 5. “My brother-in-law, whose health is rather precarious, wanted the wedding to take place while he is still alive,” said Indumathy’s father, Ravichandran, a goldsmith.
Family elders on both sides agreed that Indumathy and her husband would live separately in their respective houses until she completes her Class XIII examinations next year.
But when Indumathy went to school after the summer vacations recently, she was not allowed to attend classes.
Dalit Panthers of India MLA Ravi Kumar lobbied her case with Tamil Nadu minister for school education Thangam Thennarasu.
“The authorities should sympathetically consider the socio-economic circumstances in which such girls get married,” said Kumar.
Thennarasu asked the district chief education officer to revoke the school’s decision since there was nothing in the rules governing school education saying that a girl below 18 years who got married loses the right to complete her studies.
“We’ve taken a humanitarian approach from the girl’s point of view,” said Thennarasu. “It doesn’t mean that we advocate child marriage.”
The school will re-admit Indumathy on Friday.