Minors becoming a major voice against child marriage in MP
Census 2011 figures show that 8.4 lakh girls between 10 and 19 years were married in Madhya Pradesh. The practice is still common in rural areas.bhopal Updated: Mar 08, 2016 12:49 IST
It was mid-summer and 13-year-old Pooja was watching television at her Dewas house when an advertisement on child marriage caught her eye. Family had just married her off to a man double her age for Rs 50,000.
Already upset with the marriage imposed on her, the girl immediately dialed 1098 – Childline helpline number. Soon her father, grandfather, uncle, husband and father-in-law were arrested by the police.
Under the 2006 Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, it is illegal for girls under 18 and boys under 21 to marry in India. Those convicted of involvement face up to two years in jail and fines of up to Rs 1,00,000. However, Census 2011 figures show that 8.4 lakh girls between 10 and 19 years were married in Madhya Pradesh. The practice is still common in rural areas.
Pooja rejected by her family for raising voice against child marriage
Rejected by her family for raising voice against child marriage, Pooja now lives in a girls’ hostel in Dewas. She has also got her marriage annulled through court, while her family members are still in jail and are facing trial.
“I want to go ahead with my studies and make a career,” she told HT on Monday, on the eve of International Women’s Day.
Timely intervention and conselling saved girl from being another child bride
Her namesake, Pooja Gurjar, also from Dewas, is thankful to the woman and child development department for their timely intervention and conselling that saved her from being another child bride. Now, Gurjar, 18, is being trained to be a nurse. “That I am about to become a qualified nurse makes me feel empowered. It would be hardly possible had I been married last year…Not only me, but also my family members and villagers understood the ill-effect of a child marriage,” she said.
Minor ‘sold’ off to a 40-year-old man in the garb of marriage by her alcoholic father
Arti Jat, a minor, was ‘sold’ off to a 40-year-old man of Rajgarh in the garb of marriage by her alcoholic father. She, however, did not lose heart and approached the court through women and child development officer of Dewas district Neelam Sud and got her marriage annulled.
Now, Jat lives in a hostel and plans to join the Indian Police Service.
Boys too have come forward to annul their child marriages
Not just girls, several boys too have come forward to annul their child marriages. In 2006, Mandsaur’s Bharat Singh, then 12, was married to a girl at the instance of his elder brother. On attaining adulthood, Singh got his marriage declared void in 2013-14. Similar is the case of Govind Garasia of the district.
According to the directorate of women empowerment, the department has prevented several child marriages in the state and the number of minor girls and boys coming forward to get their child marriages nullified were only increasing.
“Till February 2016 we have prevented approximately 90,000 child marriages across the state through counselling before the final event. Similarly, 3,601 marriages were prevented on the day of marriage. In many cases FIRs were lodged,” said women empowerment commissioner Kalpana Shrivastava.