Child marriage: Priests, hall owners to face music

Child welfare dept cracks down on the menace in Shivamogga district.

SHIVAMOGGA: In a crackdown on child marriages in Shivamogga, the district administration has decided to book criminal cases against the priests who solemnize such marriages and usually manage to get away from the officials concerned of the women and child welfare department.

The owners of the marriage halls where these marriages happen, will also face criminal cases for their support to child marriages, said Shivamogga Deputy Commissioner K.A. Dayanand.

About 11 child marriage cases were reported in Shivamogga district this year and only the parents of brides and grooms and their families faced criminal cases while the priests and wedding hall owners got away.

Mr Dayanand has now asked the officials to book all hall owners and priests for their support to child marriages after they are caught.

Taking a serious note of the child marriages happening at Gudekal Temple in Shivamogga city limits, Mr Dayanand wanted surveillance cameras to be installed at the temple for better monitoring of events happening there and also cautioned priests not to support these marriages.

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Sheshappa, Deputy Director, Women and Child Welfare, Shivamogga, said that such a warning to priests and hall owners will go a long way in curbing child marriage.

The idea behind proposing criminal cases against the priests and hall owners is to make sure they have the full details of brides and grooms before they solemnize marriages.

“We do conduct workshops to educate people but in spite of it, some communities in Shivamogga and Bhadravathi hold child marriages clandestinely," he says. Child marriages in Shivamogga usually happen in the Tamil colonies and in tandas (inhabited by lambanis) who continue their age-old practice.

Mr Dayanand also wanted the police and the women and child welfare department to establish better coordination in curbing child marriages in the district.

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