120 child marriages averted in TN in a year

A proactive Perambalur district administration has averted 120 child marriages in the last one year, with five such marriages being annulled in the last week itself.

A paradox in terms of socio-economic indices, Perambalur has an impressive literacy rate of 74.68 per cent, states the 2011 census. However, it has the lowest per capita income among the 32 districts in Tamil Nadu. A rural district, only 17.14 per cent of its people are classified as “urban population.”

“In the latest instance, we stopped one child marriage just before it was to be solemnised, while four other minor girls were rescued after marriage, as we came to know about them after the ceremony was over,” Pechiammal, Perambalur District Social Welfare Officer (DSWO), told Deccan Herald.

The DSWO’s roving team, which typically includes district revenue and health officials, feel their “efforts were worth the trouble as it was done in the larger health interests of girl children.”  “We will file cases against the parents concerned who went ahead to illegally marry off their minor girls and put them back in schools,” said Pechiammal.

The five girls rescued on Friday were in the age group of 14-16 years. The district administration will ensure that they get all the support to complete their Secondary School Education. “Once they are 18, they can decide on whom to marry,” the official noted, adding that the district administration has filed 15 cases so far under the “Child Marriage Prevention Act.” More than ensuring punishment for the parents who force their minor daughters into marriage - a jail term up to two years or a fine of Rs 1 lakh - the emphasis is on timely action and prevention of child marriages. Since June 2011, this strategy has worked well, thanks to District Collector Darez Ahmed.

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