MALDA, 17 APRIL: Firm resolution of an underage minority girl succeeded in preventing her marriage last night with the timely intervention of the administrations. Though the stubborn relatives were bent on getting the marriage solemnized, non was arrested as the repentant parents finally agreed to let their child continue her studies.
A daily wage earner Khabiruddin Sheikh and his wife Bulan Bibi of Bhagabatipur village under Chanchal police station wanted to get their daughter Razia Khatun (15) married with another migrated labour Saddam Sheikh of neighbouring Krishnapur village. The groom agreed to marry Razia, a student of class X of Sontoshpur High Madrassah without any dowry which was an alluring proposal for the poor parents of the minor bride. They believed that their financial stress would be lessened if they could get their married off as the expenses of her studies were too heavy for them. The groom insisted on a quick marriage as he had a plan to go to North India as a migrated labourer soon after the marriage.
It has been learnt that Razia herself strongly opposed the matrimonial alliance and vocally expressed her keenness to continue her studies. However, her parents turned deaf ears to her pleas and the schedule of the marriage was finalized. Helpless but desperate Razia contacted a local nongovernmental organization (NGO) and sought their assistance. The NGO personnel, dealing in the prevention of child marriage, took the matter seriously and communicated the matter to administrations.
A team of the administrative officials led by the deputy magistrate Arun Ghosh and the block development officer of Chanchal along with police and the NGO workers rushed to the residence of Razia. After strong persuasion by the administrative officials Khabiruddin nodded to abort the marriage. Khabiruddin said: “Abject poverty compelled me to arrange my daughter’s marriage but eventually I have realized my blunder and cancelled the marriage.”
Mr Ghosh later said that the parents were convinced that the marriage of their minor daughter illegal and unhealthy. Razia was excessively delighted at the cancellation of her marriage. “I want to continue my studies and don’t want to be married so early,” she said.
Notably, Malda is one of the most child marriage prone districts in the state. A study conducted by Burdwan University under the project of UNICEF revealed that 42% of the minor girls are being married at an immature age. Recently, the government as well as the UNICEF made active drive to make the district gets rid of the bane of child marriage. The vigorous campaign has been yielding productive results either. Recently five minor girls of the district were felicitated by the President of India for raising their voice in this regard and compelling their parents to cancel their marriages.