The bane of child marriage

SNS, Berhampore, | 29 June, 2015

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Priyanka (name changed) is a thirteen year-old orphan girl who is now struggling hard to wriggle out of her proposed marriage.

A handicapped woman who has been supporting Priyanka with food and shelter now seems likely to bear the brunt of preventing the early marriage of the orphan.

Priyanka was a little child when her povertystricken mother committed suicide by consuming poison. The orphan, hailing from the Shitalatala area of Hatinagar Gram Panchayat under Behrampore block in Murshidabad district, also lost her father a couple of years ago when he was crushed under the car of Domkal MLA,  Anisur Rahaman of the CPI-M.

The veteran CPI-M leader has now forgotten that he had a role to reduce the girl’s status to a state of destitution, regretted a cousin of Priyanka. “We begged Anisur Rahaman several times for financially supporting the minor girl but the MLA had no time to respond except providing an ambulance and giving a sum of twelve thousand rupees for funeral expenses,” the cousin alleged.

Apparently driven by compassion, Priyanka’s school teacher,  Mukti Goswami, who is crippled in both hands since birth, accepted the request of her cousin and many others of her family and agreed to support the orphan with food, shelter and education.

Meanwhile, Priyanka’s grandparents have settled her marriage with a middle-aged farmer, from Chardarakati village of Chardaulatpur area within Raninagar police limits in Murshidabad district. “Yes, I have already seen my bride at her home and the marriage dates are fixed,” said the suitor.

The grandmother of the girl said, “Priyanka needs to be married off quite early because she is an orphan. If she stays unmarried longer, it would be very tough for us to find out a good groom.” Actually, the couple, who are Priyanka’s grand-parents on her mother’s side, want to grab the land that would go to the minor girl on attaining majority, alleged Mrs Goswami, headmistress of Hatinagar GSFP School at Behrampore.

Her grandmother admitted that Priyanka is an heir to a plot of land, but said the plot has to be sold off to meet the dowry demands of the bridegroom. Her marriage has been fixed on 14th of Shraban this year, she added. "I do not want to marry so early. I want to continue my study.

Moreover, I do not want to sell my land. But my grandparents insist on selling off my land as well as my marriage", said Priyanka who is now a student of class-VI at a high school at Behrampore. Priyanka is just another face among hundreds of minor girls destined to be married off prematurely