Namakkal kids dropping out of school to marry

,TNN | Jul 10, 2014, 02.30 AM IST

NAMAKKAL: A recent study on child marriages has revealed a troubling trend where several government school children in Namakkal are dropping out of school to get married. Of the 51 government schools surveyed in the district, 176 child marriages were reported to have taken place during February and March this year.

Hoping to curb the incidence of such marriages, Leaf Society and Child Line 1098 have joined hands to conduct a district level campaign in government schools. "When we take our campaign to schools, we see so many children being forced to get married," said S L Sathiyanesan, chairman, Leaf Society.

According to their study, the incidence of child marriage is much higher in Pallipalayam, Thiruchengode, Sendhamangalam and Vennanthur. According to him, despite having some of the best development indices in the country, Tamil Nadu is not entirely free of child marriage which continues to be rampant in the state. "It is not uncommon to see teenagers getting married, some as young as 15 years. There are many cases of teenage boys being charged under the law, even if the relationship is consensual. This is a good trend but we are far from wiping away child marriages in the state," he said.

The survey found a large number of girls especially those studying in government schools are forced to quit school to get married. "Considering that most cases go unreported, the actual incidence of child marriage is much higher than what has been recorded," Sathiyanesan said.

One major problem is that there is no effective law to curb such marriages. Most families find loopholes to get around the law. If the marriage is stopped in one village, they just go to another village and conduct the ceremony.

The study also followed what happened to the girls who were rescued and taken to government homes. "On the way forward, the recommendations included expansion of the Right to Education Act to ensure free and compulsory education up to the age of 18 instead of 14, and providing drinking water and operational toilets in all government schools," he said.

Child line Namakkal and Leaf Society have rescued more than 400 children from various abuses including child labour, child marriage and child sexual abuses. They have also intervened in 123 child marriages in Namakkal district from August 2012 to June 2014.