Lack of awareness about the ills of child marriage in general and the government directives in particular, chequered the success of the government’s initiatives to stop the medieval practice on Akshay Tritiya on Tuesday.
“The administration had issued strict directives to parents and other wedding service providers, especially in rural areas, to print date of birth of both the bride and the groom on invitation cards or get their ages verified before marrying them,” said Mahendra Pathak, a member of the ‘Lado Abhiyan’ squad. “But only a few paid heed to the orders.”
The squad, formed by the district administration to keep a check on child marriages on Akshay Tritiya, visited around 18 mass marriage sites in different parts of the city (including urban and rural pockets) on Tuesday.
“When (the) squad asked them to furnish the invitation cards mentioning the date of births of both, the bride and the groom, parents feigned ignorance about the new directives. Several parents told us that they had got their invites printed way before the orders were issued,” Pathak told Hindustan Times.
“Similarly, many service providers including tent owners, caterers and priests said they were not even aware of such an order.”
Directives had been issued by the commissioner, woman empowerment, asking various service providers, such as marriage invitation card printers, caterers, tent house owners and even priest, to verify age proof documents before undertaking any task.
The age proof documents include Class 10 marksheet, birth certificate issued by a competent government authority or the anganwadi centre record.
The commissioner had also asked the invitation card printers to verify age of both the bride and groom and also to print their date of birth on the cards.
The administration asked the concerned persons to refrain from offering their services if they found the bride or the groom were not of legal marriageable age.
Parents, marriage organiser booked in Dhar
Acting on an application submitted by the district woman empowerment officer, the city police on Tuesday booked two families for trying to marry their teenage children.
A mass marriage organiser was also booked in the case for allowing the families to conducting marriage during a mass marriage ceremony.
According to sources, district woman empowerment officer Subhash Jain got information that two teenagers were being married at a mass marriage function in Dhar.
Soon after the administration swung into action and a team immediately rushed to the spot and asked mass marriage organisers to submit details of all 138 couples.
The organiser allegedly tried to hush-up the matter and refused to submit details of the minor girl, married during the programme. Thereafter the administrative officials submitted an application at the Kotwali police station to book them under relevant sections.
Squad stops 2 child marriages in Indore
Two child marriages were stopped by the Ladoo Abhiyan members at Bajarang Pura and Rahul Gandhi Nagar on Tuesday.
In both the cases, the grooms were found to be below 21 years. While the former was two months short of 21 years, the latter was just 19 years old, the squad members informed.
Both the families were informed about the legal provisions, which criminalise marriage under 21 years (for boys), and were made to provide undertakings assuring that they would not marry their sons before they attain the legal age of marriage.