Madurai: Officials of the District Social Welfare Department stopped three minor marriages on Tuesday. Ironically, in two of the marriages, senior politicians holding ministerial positions agreed to preside over the function without knowing that the bride had not attained the legal age for marriage. However, when they learnt that the brides were minors, the politicians immediately asked the family members of the both the bride and the groom to cooperate with the officials of the social welfare department.
In one of the marriages supposed to be presided over by a minister, the groom was an employee of the Central Industrial Security Force, who was engaged to marry a 17-year-old girl at Jaihindpuram here. When officials of the Social Welfare Department explained to him that the bride was a minor, he agreed to postpone the marriage.
In another marriage arranged at Koodal Alagar Kovil here, the bride was just 16 years old. “She looked like a school girl, but her father was ready to get her married to his nephew who was 11 years older,” said the officer who stopped the marriage. The groom’s mother, a widow, began to cry after the marriage was stopped. The officials explained to the members of both the families about the health problems the girl would face if she was married off at a minor age. They extended cooperation to the officials.
In another case, the bride, a minor girl, passed 12th standard, but the family members arranged to get her married to an autorickshaw driver, a close relative of the bride’s. “We also stopped two other marriages at Thirumangalam Taluk in past two days,” E Anandavalli, District Social Welfare Officer, told Express.
In the past eight months, the department stopped 18 marriages that included both minor and child marriages. “Even after we create awareness among the villagers, people are trying to get their daughters married off at a young age mainly to maintain family ties. In southern districts, the people would go to any extent to maintain their family ties,” she said.
The official hoped that the number of such marriages would come down in the future as both the Collector and the Superintendent of Police were taking strict action against child marriages and focusing on creating awareness. Anandavalli said that as per the Collector’s order, the officials would recommend action against marriage halls that allow such marriages.