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Child marriage in UP: 13-year-old girl forced to marry groom after elder sister elopes, 111 booked

A 13-year-old girl was allegedly married off to a 22-year-old man in the Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh after her elder sister’s scheduled wedding with him ran into trouble.

The elder sister, aged 20, had eloped with her boyfriend just days before the function, the police said. Even though she returned just four days before the scheduled wedding, the groom, who works in Ludhiana, refused to marry her, they added.

The family, trapped in shame, then allegedly asked her younger sister, a Class 8 student, to step in as the bride, according to officials.The incident came to light when a team from the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) investigated a complaint of child marriage.

Also read | One in 5 girls in India still married below legal age, finds new study

The police Tuesday booked 111 people, including the groom, the girl’s family and the priest who solemnised the marriage and those who attended the function, under The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, which forbids marriage of females below 18 and males below 21, and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.

No one has been arrested in the case so far and an investigation has begun, said the station house officer of the police station concerned.

Festive offer

Social activist Raj Kumari stated in her complaint that on December 13, CWC chairperson Preeti Singh came to know through a source about a potential child marriage in a village. Singh said she immediately sent a team of the district CWC, along with the police, to verify the information.

The team found a wedding function was being organised at the house of a farmer against whom the complaint of child marriage was filed. The farmer assured the authorities that his elder daughter was getting married and the CWC team returned.

When apprehensions of child marriage were raised again the next day, Singh sent a team once again to the farmer’s place. The team recorded statements from the minor girl and family members, and realised it was the younger sister who got married the previous day.

“On December 13, when the police and child welfare team reached the farmer’s place, the family pretended that the elder daughter was marrying the groom. However, after the team went back, the real ceremony, involving the minor girl, took place inside the house,” said Singh.

The CWC recorded the minor girl’s statement. “She has been returned to their parents after collecting an affidavit from them. The family agreed they would not get her married off before the permissible age. They also stated in the affidavit that they would make sure the girl’s education does not get stopped,” said Singh.

© The Indian Express Pvt Ltd

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