It demands no introduction that many people, including Muslims, believe that Islam permits child marriage. As a result, Islam is often dismissed as a highly misogynistic religion by some non-Muslims, who believe it should have no place in our post-enlightenment era. “A medieval religion with medieval laws”, they say.
A compulsive gambler in West Bengal’s Malda district has fixed the marriage of his 13-year-old daughter with his neighbour — who is two times her age — after losing to him in a marathon gambling session.The man, a resident of Krishnapur-Buritala village in Malda, was locked in a gambling bout with local youth Sukumar Mandal on December 1. Having lost all that he had, he put his girl at stake, and again lost.Soon after, the two families started negotiations and the marriage was fixed for January 22. An engagement ceremony was held on December 9, which was attended by villagers and relatives.The girl, a Class VIII student, stopped attending school after she got engaged.When contacted, Habibpur Block Development Officer (BDO) Arnab Roy said he had sent a team to the village, bordering Bangladesh, Thursday to get the details.The team was to meet Friday. The BDO said he also asked members of ‘Childline’, an NGO dedicated to children’s welfare, to be present at the meeting.Stating that he has informed the district social welfare officer about the incident, the BDO said all out efforts would be made to stop the marriage as child marriage, which is a punishable offence.He said illiteracy was the reason behind the incident and efforts would be made to make both the families aware about the drawbacks of child marriage.
KOLKATA: Child marriage is a stigma not only of the Bengal hinterland — it may be well entrenched in culture conscious Kolkata. A 15-year-old Kolkata girl was being forced into marriage by an entire neighbourhood on EM Bypass and escaped by having the teenage groom arrested just hours before the wedding on Saturday.Coming just three days after a Malda man staked his 13-year-old daughter in a gambling bet and agreed to marry her off to the winner, it shows just why Bengal is among the top five states in child marriage.What's perhaps more shocking than a child marriage in Kolkata is the fact that the wedding had the backing of the entire neighbourhood. Locals had pooled in Rs 60,000 for the wedding and were very upset when the police "interfered". They held a demonstration at Pragati Maidan police station demanding that the "two lovers must be united". Even in the Malda incident, the village saw nothing wrong in a father virtually selling of his minor daughter to a gambler.According to police, 19-year-old Madan Gupta of Rajarhat was pressuring a 15-year-old girl to marry him. The groom's family insisted on an early date and with the neighbourhood getting involved, the girl's family agreed to hold the wedding on December 13. No one thought of asking the girl.A class X student, she knew that she was too young to marry but all her protests went in vain. When the wedding preparations reached the final stages, she appealed to a neighbour for help. This neighbour contacted Childline co-ordinator Shukla Sheel, who lodged a complaint with police."We got a call about a child marriage and immediately sent a police team to the groom's residence. We found Madan Gupta participating in the 'gaye holud (haldi)' ceremony. He was arrested on the spot but his other immediate family members managed to escape. An FIR has been registered against the accused under Section 9 and 10 of the Prevention of Child Marriage Act, 2006," said an investigating officer.Locals, however, are angry at the police interference and claim that the girl and boy had planned to elope, which is why the residents chose "to take up their cause". "We had raised Rs 60,000 for the marriage as both families are extremely poor. Now, the groom is behind bars and all our efforts have gone down the drain," said a resident, refusing to accept that child marriage is illegal.This attitude towards the social stigma explains why around 55% marriages in Bengal are of under-age children. National Crime Records Bureau data and a recent survey by a Delhi-based NGO show that the number of child marriages in rural areas is much higher than in urban areas. While 57.9% of rural marriages in Bengal are child marriages, in towns and cities, it's 36.1%. There are a 27,082 underage married girls, who became mothers before the age of 15 in Bengal. This is the second highest in the country after Bihar (31,665).Locals had pooled in Rs 60,000 for the wedding and were very upset when the police "interfered". They held a demonstration at Pragati Maidan police station demanding that the "two lovers must be united". TOI
MAHOTTARI, Dec 8: Sound of traditional musical instruments blared out of a small house at ward number 1 of Matihani VDC early in the morning. It was occasionally punctuated by thunderous laughter of those indulged in drunken reveling.
Any wedding party is a pleasant sight - even at otherwise gloomy, impoverished locality of the Doms, the most oppressed community in the Tarai.