School student fends off being hitched

Punitha, a resident of Rangachari Hundi and student of 10th standard, was eager to continue her studies. Her parents wanted to marry her off to a 25-year-old illiterate worker in a brickkiln.

Punitha’s parents brushed off her objections, and began preparing for the wedding. Soon, the groom’s family visited Punitha’s home and the marriage date was fixed.

Punitha approached an NGO, Rural Literacy and Health Programme (RLHP), for help. The activists of RLHP tried to convince her parents about the illegality of the marriage and the penal provisions, but failed.

The parents were not convinced and went ahead with the marriage plans. They even paid the groom’s family Rs 15,000 cash and five gram of gold.

Desperate, Punitha telephoned the children’s helpline which alerted the taluk administration which in turn informed the Child Welfare Committee about the impending child marriage.

Warning

The child development project officer (CDPO) personally visited Punitha’s house and counselled her parents. The CDPO also warned them of the legal consequences of the child marriage. An anganwadi worker was told to keep tabs on the family and ensure that the wedding doesn’t take place.

The parents finally agreed to continue Punitha's education. On their request, the groom’s family returned the dowry and gold on Sunday.

A jubilant Punitha said: “I didn’t want to get married. I wanted to get through SSLC, get training in the Industrial Training Institute and secure a decent job.”

Poverty

She is aware that poverty pushed her parents to take the decision against her consent.
“I have to travel four km to my school in Bannur every day. As we don’t have a bus from my village, I go by tempo, paying Rs 10. My parents can’t afford it. Hence, they thought marriage would help them get rid of their responsibility towards me,” Punitha said.

However, her father has changed his mind now and is willing to support her, she said.

Aid to PU topper withdrawn

The ­Tumkur district administration has withdrawn the financial assistance it had extended to Shilpakala, the student who had made headlines by securing the third rank in the arts stream of the II PUC, following her marriage to her cousin Raghu on Sunday.

Shilpakala’s husband is reportedly not averse to the girl pursuing a degree course. Following a report in Deccan Herald about the achievement of the girl from Kolala village in the taluk, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa had promised that the government would bear the expenses of her education.

The family decided to go ahead with the marriage as it  had been fixed before the PU results were announced and the invitations had been distributed. 

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