India: Reeling under debt, an unemployed man tries to marry off 2 minor daughters to avoid lavish function in Uttar Pradesh
In a shocking incident, a 42-year old daily wager tried to marry off his two daughters who were minors amid COVID -19 yesterday. This happened in a village of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, where the pandemic has hit hard like the rest of India.
The girls were aged 16 and 12 years, and they study in Grade 6 and Grade 9, reportedly. Their father planned to marry them off, so he did not need to spend a considerable sum for their marriage due to lockdown restrictions.
However, timely intervention by the officials prevented the wedding from taking place.
As per a local news source, their father was an alcoholic, and his health was deteriorating. So he tried to get his two daughters to marry, thinking it would be a wise decision.
He found grooms who didn’t have any demand for dowry, and they were okay with a simple wedding. The incident came to light as some of their neighbours got to know about it, and they passed on the information to a child helpline called Child Line.
A team from the helpline arrived at the village to enquire, and eventually stopped the wedding. The girls told the officials that their father had finalised their wedding though they wanted to pursue their education. Talking to a local news source, their mother said: “We are helpless. My husband’s income has gone during the lockdown, and the family has debts to repay.”
Later the family was given counselling by Child Line officials. The man also promised the police that he wouldn’t marry off his daughters before they turned 18.
Seven cases of child marriage have been reported in the area according to local police authorities. Apparently all are due to the pandemic as the parents have lost livelihoods due to the lockdown.