UP: Fear of crime pushing girls into early marriage
Earlier, girls were married off early due to poverty, lack of education and poor awareness, but now fear of crime against women has come as a new force to push girls into early marriages.Updated: Feb 21, 2019 11:41 IST
Marriage norms, it seems, are changing again.
Earlier, girls were married off early due to poverty, lack of education and poor awareness, but now fear of crime against women has come as a new force to push girls into early marriages. Surprisingly, this trend is seen even in areas close to the state capital, like Mal, Malihabad and Kakori.
- Five districts of UP are among the top 50 in terms of child marriage in the country.
- As per the National family Health Survey (NFHS 4) data, the worst affected districts are Shrawasti (68.5%), Gonda (48.6%), Lalitpur (49.3%) Maharajganj (48.2%) and Siddharthnagar (45.2%).
Child welfare agencies have also observed that parents are concerned about safety of their girls in areas just a few kilometres from the state capital.
“There have been frequent incidents of molestation, abduction and rape in the past,” said Malihabad resident Ganesh Kumar. He added that the peer group as well as the ‘socially influential’ people used these incidents to scare the parents of girls. “When the girl reaches 15 years of age, parents get restless as they daily hear rumours or news regarding something happening with the fair sex in the vicinity. This fear is enough to decide the girls’ fate,” he added.
A retired government employee Rajbhar Singh of Kakori said, “When a girl grows up, people start talking about her marriage which brings the parents under pressure. This social pressure coupled with crimes happening around results in child marriages. Incidents of love marriages and abduction also mount pressure on parents which obviously is not right.”
A few months ago, a Childline team was confronted by the father of a minor girl in a village in Malihabad. “We got information regarding marriage of a 12-year-old girl. When approached, her father asked us to ensure her safety for six years (until she reached 18 years of age ),” said Childline official Ajit Kushwaha.
“Most of the cases are from Malihabad, Kakori and Mal areas,” he said, adding, “People have different justifications. It has become a ritual and mothers do not see any wrong in this as they have gone through the same situation,” he said.
A cop said that there had been some incidents of crime against women, including abduction and rape. “The situation is not very serious but a bogey of ‘unsafe’ environment has been raised,” he said. He added that stray incidents should not be used to scare parents or mar the children’s future.
CWC President Kuldeep Ranjan said that efforts were on to curb child marriage but they were still taking place even in Lucknow. “We had to intervene in four such scheduled marriages earlier this week. We counsel parents and the relatives,” he said.
As per the data from different agencies, 30 such incidents came to the knowledge of bodies working for child welfare and quite a few cases were registered across the state. As per the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data, 10 cases were registered in 2014, four in 2015 and three in 2016.