“I was not interested in marriage at all. But my mother and grandmother forced me to accept. I do not like the bridegroom. I am happy that the district administration has stopped my marriage because I was only around 16,” says a girl from Melapuliyur, who is one of the 167 girls in Perambalur district whose marriage was stopped under the Child Marriage Act 2006.
In most of these marriages, the bridegroom was the relative of the girl, more often than not a cousin. Another common strain is that the parents were hardly educated.
Asked whether they were aware that getting married before the age of 18 was illegal and physically it could lead to complications when marrying at such a young age (even resulting in death at the time of childbirth), most of the girls either confessed ignorance or chose to keep silent.
Similar was the response from the parents too when asked whether they were not risking the life of the girl if she was to be married at a young age. Most of them remained downcast admitting they were at fault. However, a woman said: “I also got married when I was less than 16 and I am perfectly all right. I had no complications at all.” Her worry is “who will marry my daughter whose marriage has been stopped after the betrothal?”