Child marriages prevented with Indian NGO’s efforts

As many as 19 couples were found to be underage at a mass wedding of 38 couples in the Vatva area of Gujarat.

Rathin Das

Rathin Das

The Statesman


[Representational Photo : iStock]

May 22, 2023

AHMEDABAD – Marriages of at least 19 underage couples were prevented here today thanks to timely intervention of a voluntary organization which also took the help of government officials and local police.

Community weddings of poor and orphans once in a while are popular in Gujarat, with social organizations sponsoring the events and liberally gifting necessary household articles to the newly-wed couples.

Thus, there was nothing unusual about the Devipujak Samaj announcing a mass wedding of 38 couples in the Vatva area of the city on Sunday.

But volunteers of an NGO Prayas suspected that some of these could be underage boys and girls.

Accompanied by district child protection officials, the NGO activists on Friday demanded to see the participants’ School Leaving Certificates (SLC) which have date of birth mentioned.

As the organizers could show only 14 SLCs by Saturday, the activists and district officials launched a thorough probe about the age of all the participants in the mass wedding scheduled on Sunday.

Finally, as many as 19 couples were found to be underage while 17 couples tied the knot at the mass wedding ceremony in the Vatva area on Sunday.

“We did all this by taking the local police into confidence,” Prayas volunteer Indrajeet Chauhan told The Statesman on Sunday evening.

Once the information leaked out that many of these could be child marriages, he said, the local politicians and community leaders too did not turn up to grace the occasion.

As society leaders act liberal with these mass weddings meant for poor, many underage orphans under custody of distant uncles or aunts often get ‘disposed of’ through such events, a detailed conversation with the NGO activist revealed.

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