Childline authorities say that the wedding took place in West Bengal and not in Kerala, which is why they can’t take up a case.

12-yr-old living in Kerala married to 18-yr-old Authorities mull actionRepresentational image
news Child marriage Monday, October 08, 2018 - 07:07

In a shocking incident, a 12-year-old girl from a family from West Bengal settled in Kerala’s Malappuram district was married off to an 18-year-old man. The groom is also a native of West Bengal and is a family friend of the girl.

The Child Welfare Committee and Childline came to know about it a few days ago after receiving a tip-off. The girl, a class 6 student in Kottakkal, was absent from school for three months. Childline authorities in the district say that the teachers of the school were aware of it when she returned to school, but were divided on informing them and the police.

According to Childline, the family had gone to their village in West Bengal three months ago, presumably to conduct the wedding. While the girl and her mother returned, her father is still in Bengal. The Child Welfare Committee told the father to be present for its sitting, scheduled for Monday.

“The teachers were divided on whether to inform child rights bodies or the police as the incident didn’t occur in Kerala,” Childline Malappuram district coordinator Anwar Karakkadan told TNM.

On receiving the information, Childline authorities confirmed the incident with the girl and her mother, and informed the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer. The girl was presented before the Child Welfare Committee. The CWC sent the child along with her mother.

“What we have understood is that the girl agreed for the marriage as she was forced by her parents, not as per her will. The mother told us that it is a custom to marry off girls at this early age in their place. We can’t take up a case in the issue as the place of occurrence is in Bengal. There is a sitting. We also need to probe if the child was sexually abused. If so, The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, can be imposed,” Anwar said.

The child’s parents, who are Muslims, had settled in Kerala 15 years ago. Childline authorities assume that the parents had planned to send the 12-year-old along with the 18-year-old boy after the other customs of the marriage were completed.

Authorities also assume that the wedding happened three months, soon after the family went to Bengal, but the girl’s mother told them that it took place a month ago.

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