August 17, 2016
Thanjavur: Long gone are the days when minor girls stood helplessly, wringing their hands, with tears in their eyes, while they were married off, without their consent, by their parents, on the pretext of saving the family honour or other such excuses. Now, awareness among the girls on child marriage is on the rise.
This is evident from the statistics on the number of child marriages prevented by the authorities of Social Welfare Department in the last few years in Thanjavur district.
“We have intervened and rescued 14 girls in 2014, and 16 girls in 2015 from child marriages,” District Social Welfare Officer Bhagyalakshmi said. “Till July this year, we had intervened and rescued 11 girls from child marriage. Of them, two girls who had successfully completed their Class XII and are now in college.”
When these two girls expressed their desire to pursue their higher studies, the then collector Subbaiyan secured admission for them in Kundavai Nachiar Government Arts College for Women, Bhagyalakshmi said.
As per the statistics available at the office of the District Social Welfare Department, prevalence of child marriage is high in Papanasam, Thiruvonam, Pattukottai, and Orathanadu blocks in Thanjavur district.
Despite the enforcement of Child Marriage Act 2006, which prescribes completion of 18 years of age for girls as pre-requisite for marriage, poverty, customs and traditions, and the fear that ‘something untoward’ might happen if the girls were to remain ‘single’ after attaining puberty were the broad reasons generally attributed to the decisions of the parents for such early marriages. Sometimes, sensing their daughter’s love affair, the girl’s parents hurriedly arrange for early marriage to save the family honour.
District Child Protection Officer Saraswathi claimed that awareness among the girls on child marriage is on the rise.
“Unlike in the past, awareness on child marriage is on the rise among the girls, as majority of them are now educated. In many cases, we are alerted by either by the girl or her friends or classmates, thanks to the toll-free helpline number 1098,” Saraswathi said.