Officials say that there is a culture of living together in tribal communities even when the girl is very young.

Kerala adivasi teen gives birth Officials unable to stop child marriage in tribal communities
news Child Marriage Monday, September 11, 2017 - 19:11

A 14-year-old adivasi girl, who was studying in the seventh standard, gave birth to a baby on August 17 in Kozhikode. The incident came to light on Monday.

According to reports, the girl attended school until February 2017 and after that, she dropped out after finding out that she was pregnant. Media reports say that her family claims that she was married as per the rules of their community. Her school authorities told the media that she had undergone a caesarean section.

However, the identity of the person responsible for her pregnancy or to whom she is married to has not been revealed, fearing being charged with POCSO.

An official of the child welfare committee from Kozhikode told The News Minute, “Many of the tribal colonies have unmarried minor mothers. At times they marry as per their community tradition. Mostly they have a culture of living together, even when the girl is young. Childline officials or school authorities come to know about it only after child birth or after the girl gets pregnant,” he said. He also said that there are cases where people from outside the community sexually abuse tribal girls, but nobody speaks about it.

“In most of these cases, we are helpless. They say they it’s part of their culture to get married early. But the girl is often a child,” he added.

A police officer from Wayanad district told The News Minute that in child marriage cases among tribal communities they often have to look the other way.

“One fine day a girl and a boy start living together. The girl is often below 18 years. There have been cases in which the girl was just 13 or 14. After a year they have a child and then we come to know about it. We have the provision to charge POCSO and arrest the girl’s partner, but who will look after the girl and the child? Since the girl is from a poor family she cannot go back to them. In this kind of cases we are forced to flout the law on basis of humanitarian concerns,” said the police officer.

The officer said that the situation is similar in many of the tribal villages in Kerala.