Hyderabad: Two child marriages were stopped by the police in Hyderabad and Yadagirigutta on Tuesday evening after friends of the brides called the child helpline number and sought help.
The Hyderabad bride-to-be was 17 years old, while the Yadagirigutta girl was just 13. The grooms selected by the parents in both cases were 24 years old. Seventeen-year-old girl said she wanted to study further but her parents insisted she get married to her maternal cousin. “They had extracted a promise from him that he would allow me to finish my graduation. But I was not sure about the commitment,” she said. A senior child protection officer said her parents were adamant that they were right. “It took a lot of counselling to make them understand that they can wait for a year (till she is of legal age). They were not very poor and belonged to a lower middle class family. The parents were scared that she may have an affair with an outsider and hence wanted the marriage to take place.”
The 24-year-old groom works in a private organisation in the city and was aware of the girl’s age. He told the police that he was willing to fund her education and had accepted all the demands of the family. The cancellation of the marriage at the eleventh hour was devastating and his family was not willing to wait for another year.
The 13-year-old girl was very scared and didn’t speak for almost an hour after the child protection officers intervened. It was only when she was alone with them that she confessed that she had asked her friends to call for help as she was not willing to get married and wanted to complete Class X.
Achyut Rao, who was part of the team that visited the homes of the girls, said, “This family was very poor and they were scared. They didn’t want to take the burden of further education and so took this step. It took a lot of counselling to convince them that they must allow her to complete her studies and get her married only after she was 18 years of age.”
So far this year police have registered 17 cases of child marriage in Hyderabad city, 28 cases in Ranga Reddy district, 80 in Mahabubnagar and Nalgonda, and 50 in Medak district.
In Hyderabad city, a “child protection van” is spreading awareness about the illegality of child marriages. It is heartening that information and alerts about child marriages are coming from friends of the children who are calling on the helpline number 1098. It clearly shows that the young girls are not in favour of being married off so young....