In a shocking case of child marriage, a 13-year-old boy was married off to a 23-year-old woman in Kowthalam mandal in Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh.
The marriage was reportedly conducted on April 27 in a small ceremony without the knowledge of the villagers. Local reporters, who got to know about the incident much later, reported the incident. Following the news being published in newspapers, the family of the minor boy is absconding.
Taking cognisance of the media reports, local authorities, including the Joint Collector and the police, started a search for the bride’s family in the village on Friday, in order to rescue the boy. However, the family is at large till now. As the family couldn’t be traced, the Joint Collector ordered the police to find and produce the boy before him by Monday.
According to local reporters, the minor’s father is alcoholic while his mother is reportedly ill. The minor has three other siblings. Fearing that her children would be deserted by her husband if she died, the boy’s mother found a match from her relatives, although the woman was much older, and got the boy married off.
Police suspect that the family has fled to Karnataka, since the village is close to the Karnataka border.
Speaking to TNM, Additional Project Director of Integrated Child Development Services, Kurnool, Vijaya, who was part of the rescue operation, said, “We conducted a search in the village yesterday, but we couldn’t find the family. Fearing legal action, they must have fled. Though media reports are saying that the bride is 23 years old, it looks like she’s much older, probably 30 or more.”
During the search for the boy’s family in the village, a few villagers reportedly told authorities that it was a love marriage.
“Irrespective of whether it was a love marriage or marriage with or without consent, it is still illegal as the boy hasn’t attained the age of 21,” the APD said.
The villagers also told the authorities that the boy had quit studies several years ago and was working as a labourer.