"The girl objected but her father solemnised her marriage"
A 14-year-old girl from Madhya Pradesh, who was sold for Rs. 4 lakh (£4,000) and raped in Rajasthan, was rescued in Ujjain, on December 13, 2020.
Police arrested four people who were identified as the girl’s father, another man from Udaipur and two women.
The accused have been arrested under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 370 (a) (exploitation of trafficked person), 372 (2) (selling minor for purpose of prostitution) and 376 (rape).
They were also booked under relevant sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.
The police stated: “The girl, a resident of Ujjain, was taken to Udaipur by her parents in November 2020.
“The parents told her that she was going to be married.
“The girl objected but her father solemnised her marriage on November 24, 2020, in a village in Udaipur district.
“The parents then came back to Ujjain after leaving the girl with her husband, from the illegal marriage, in the village.
“The man raped the girl and told her that her parents had sold her for Rs. 4 lakh (£4,000).
“On December 8, 2020, the girl asked him to take her to Ujjain to see her parents for one last time, following which the man brought her to Ujjain.
“On December 13, 2020, he tried to take her back to Udaipur but she contacted her aunt and shared her ordeal with her.”
The aunt informed the Childline and the police, following which, the accused were arrested and the girl was sent for counselling.
Instances of child marriage have for years been the norm in India.
While illegal, India accounts for the largest number of child brides in the world with a third of the global total.
Child marriage is the formal or informal union of one or both people under the age of 18.
In particular, girls are married usually to men triple their age. This violates children’s rights making them susceptible to abuse, violence and exploitation.
Children are robbed of their education, childhood, freedom and well-being making them extremely vulnerable to marital abuse.
UNICEF estimates that approximately 1.5 million girls under 18 get married each year.
However, 2020 might be far worse. The children’s helpline, Childline, reported a 17% increase in calls from girls in June and July 2020 compared to 2019.
Marrying your daughter off young means it is one less mouth to feed for poorer families.
With the gradual decline into poverty due to the covid pandemic, more and more girls are being married off in 2020.