Officials from the Department of Social Welfare said on Friday that 63 child marriages were stopped in Coimbatore district so far this year.
The marriages were stopped either through calls to Childline helpline 1098 or based on specific information from other sources, the officials said. While the reporting of child marriages reduced during April, May and June, which were the initial months of the imposition of COVID-19 lockdown, the cases began to increase since July, according to the officials.
A similar trend was also observed regarding the number of distress calls received by Childline in Coimbatore district, according to Childline officials. There was a dip in the number of calls received during April and May, where Childline received around 40 calls from children in distress. However, the numbers gradually increased from June, as the lockdown restrictions began to ease, following which the Childline received around 100 distress calls every month from the district.
From January to October, Childline officials received 831 calls from children in distress in Coimbatore district regarding child marriage, child labour and physical/sexual abuse, the officials said.
According to Section 12 (b) of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, a marriage of a minor child can be deemed void if the child is “by force compelled, or by any deceitful means induced to go from any place.” Childline, a 24×7 emergency helpline service for children in distress, can be reached at 1098.
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