Woman fined Rs 16 lakh for seeking annulment of child marriage
The panchayat in Rohichakala village has allegedly also threatened to abduct the woman and kill her family-members, said Kriti Bharti of the NGO Sarthi Trust, which has been waging a battle against child marriage which is rampant in the state.jaipur Updated: May 12, 2015 07:21 IST
A khap panchayat in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur district has allegedly slapped a Rs 16 lakh fine on the family of a woman for demanding annulment of her marriage solemnised when she was just 11 months old, an activist group said on Monday.
The panchayat in Rohichakala village has allegedly also threatened to abduct the woman and kill her family members, said Kriti Bharti of the NGO Sarthi Trust, which has been waging a battle against child marriage which is rampant in the state.
Data from the 2011 census shows that 1.6 million children were married in the state between 2000 and 2010. An earlier survey by United Nations had said that Rajasthan accounts for the second highest number of child marriages in the world.
Marriage of a girl under 18 years and a boy under 21 is prohibited in India under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.
The latest incident comes barely a few weeks after a family court in Jodhpur struck down two marriages, solemnised when the boy was three years old and the girl 10 just months.
However, it was not known when the khap panchayat slapped the fine on the family which arrived in Jodhpur to seek help from the NGO. The woman is pursuing her graduation from the Jai Narain Vyas University in the city.
NGO members addressed the media on Monday in the presence of the woman Santadevi Meghwal, 19, and her father.
Bharti, who is also a rehabilitation psychologist, said the family-members of Santadevi were informed about the panchayat fine by relatives based in the village, around 40 km from here.
Santadevi said she was informed about her marriage to one Sanwalram, 27, only a few years earlier and decided to act after mustering courage to raise her voice against village elders.
“Efforts are being made to nullify the child marriage through counseling with the in-laws of the woman,” Bharti said adding they would seek legal help if needed.
“I would move the court for annulment of this marriage,” said Santadevi, who dreams of taking up teaching as a profession.
Bharti said the khap panchayat has also threatened him for taking up the girl’s cause.
Khap panchayats have come under growing scrutiny for allegedly acting as extra-judicial bodies and trying to reinforce conservative attitudes toward caste and morality. They have also been blamed for the spread of so-called honour killings, ordering bans on women wearing tight clothing and trying to prohibit the use of mobile phones by youngsters.