The wedding was stopped after some relatives called the social welfare department and the police

Coimbatore officials stop wedding of child bride in exchange of debt waiverImage: Relatives and police outside the marriage hall in Coimbatore
news Monday, April 11, 2016 - 17:44

A 15-year-old girl, Sarjina Banu, was reportedly almost married off to a 21-year-old man in Coimbatore in order to pay off her father’s debts. Sarjina’s education had apparently already been stopped due to financial problems in her family.

However, the marriage was stopped after some of the girl’s relatives opposed the wedding and called the social welfare department and the police on Saturday.

“We were informed that only the engagement was taking place on Sunday but, on Saturday, we came to know that the girl’s marriage will be conducted on Sunday. We immediately informed the social welfare department and stopped the wedding,” said Nizamuddin, Sarjina’s uncle.

The child marriage was planned to waive off a loan of two lakh rupees taken by Sarjina’s father, Abdul Abbas, from the boy’s father, Anwar.   

Sarjina hails from Chettipalayam and the boy, Riyaz, is from Karamakadai, both places in Coimbatore district. “Riyaz was not getting a girl and Sarjina’s family was not in a financial condition to repay the loan. So Riyaz’s father asked Abdul Abbas to marry his daughter to Riyaz instead of (repaying) the loan,” said Nizamuddin.

The wedding plans began about 15 days ago. “The girl was not allowed to talk to us. We told her later that if she does not want to be married, do what the social welfare department is telling you to do,” said Nizamuddin.

The police have reportedly made both the families sign a document promising that until the girl turns 18 years old, her marriage will not be conducted. “The social welfare department has also promised that they will keep coming and checking for the next three months that she has not been married off,” said Nizamuddin.

Sarjina’s relatives had objected to the marriage and told the family not to go ahead with it. “But the boy’s family hurried the wedding and got all the arrangements done in four days, said Nizamuddin.

Abdul Abbas runs a bakery shop and his wife Ramlakmisha is a house-wife.

An unexpected turn of fortune has occurred for Sarjina with this incident. An NGO has apparently come forward to sponsor the girl’s education and take care of her expenses.

“We will be very careful in future that Sarjina is not married away and will not be hesitant to call the officials for help again,” said Nizamuddin.

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