The Mandsaur district administration has made it mandatory to register marriages before a couple go through the actual marriage ceremony, said an official on Sunday.
With the initiative, Mandsaur became the first district in the state to implement such a policy, and violation will invite a fine of Rs 5000, said Raghvendra Sharma, district child protection officer.
The order was issued on August 10, he said.
“Our main aim is to end child marriage in the district besides helping the bride get a new document for and save her from future legal hassles.”
Child marriages are common in Mandsaur bordering Rajasthan and though over the years incidents of child marriage have come down, but the practice is still prevalent, especially in the rural areas of the district.
District child protection officer Raghvendra Sharma said, “It is difficult to say how many child marriages take place in the district, but in the last three years we prevented at least 124 child marriage and another 31 in the last five months.”
To ensure that the initiative is successful, people who provide services for marriages, including priests, caterers, decorators, and music bands, have been asked to ensure that the marriage has been registered before they provide their services or they too will be penalized, said Singh.
Madhya Pradesh has stringent laws against child marriage and if child marriage is proved then people are under Section 10 and 11 of Prevention of Child Marriage Act, 2006, the accused has to pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh and face a jail term of two years.
In another initiative, the administration has launched an mobile phoned-based “informer system” through which a person can sent a text massage to inform the district authorities of a child marriage and a recharge of Rs 100, said a official of state women and child welfare department.
“The name of the informer will not be disclosed and the initiative has proved to be beneficial,” he said.