Child marriages caused by social media worry officials

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Social media, like WhatsApp and Facebook, are largely used to be in touch with friends and family members and to send messages, but, its indiscriminate use by teens is resulting in child marriages.

According to the officials of the Women and Child Welfare department, rampant use of social media by teenagers is resulting in child marriages and there are a few such examples in the district.

“Owing to the influence of social media, several youths, still in their teens, develop friendship, which turns into love, mostly before attaining the legal age for marriage. The girl’s parents, who learn about this, arrange a marriage in a hurry with another boy, without the consent of the girl,” the officials said.

An officer said, the department received a complaint from a boy, also an autorickshaw driver, about a child marriage and we rescued the girl. “During a probe of the case, we learnt that the girl in question was in love with the auto driver,” the officer said.

“The boy and the girl came in contact on social media and their friendship turned into love. As the girl’s parents came to know about the affair, they prepared for a marriage with another boy. We averted the marriage, but the girl refused to go with her parents. Now, she is in Bal Bhavan. There are a few such cases,” said the officer.

While child marriage is a tradition in some hamlets in rural Mysuru, lack of awareness among the parents is resulting in child marriages. But in urban areas, social media is playing a role in child marriages, he said.

The department of women and child welfare received 74 complaints of child marriage, between April 2018 and March 2019. The officials have averted 69 marriages and have registered FIRs in five cases.

“We have planned awareness drives among high school and PU students about the ill-effects of child marriage,” said Women and Child Welfare deputy director K Padma, adding that there was a need for moral education among students.

The cases of child marriages are a little high in rural Mysuru. Though the officials get hints about the marriages, the parents manage to hide the matter. Unless we get supporting documents or proof, it is not possible to take action against the parents, another officer said.

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