16-year-old Hyderabad schoolgirl ,married forcibly asked to perform conjugal duties by legal notice
HYDERABAD, Jan 12: A 16-year-old schoolgirl in Hyderabad, who returned home after being forced to marry a man more than double her age, has been served legal notice reminding her of her “conjugal duties”.
The police say they can’t take action without a complaint as child marriage is “not automatically illegal.”
The teen has gone to child rights activists for help.
She was preparing to write her Class 10 exam in February last year when she was forced to marry a cousin 20 years older. Her family urged her to fall in line, claiming that her aunt was dying and would like to see her son married.
“It (the wedding) happened very suddenly. He was more than 35 years old. I didn’t know at the time,” she told NDTV.
Her one condition was that she should be allowed to sit for her exams and study further.
After her exams, she was sent to her husband’s home, where she was allegedly assaulted almost daily – physically and sexually.
Two months after the wedding, she returned home. Her parents welcomed back their only daughter. When they asked her husband’s family to return Rs. 1 lakh dowry and gold given to them, the girl was sent notice.
The girl contacted Anuradha, who is part of a government-run social action group. She called a Panchayat meeting with village elders for both sides to try and resolve the fight.
“But the husband turned up with two lawyers and said instead of returning money to her parents, he would pay lawyers,” Anuradha said.
Achyutha Rao, a Child Rights Commission member, said it was appalling that a minor girl was being served legal notice on sexual duties. “The accused is not being booked. Instead, a legal notice has been sent to this 15-year-old girl for restitution of conjugal rights. We are going to file a criminal case against the lawyer,” Mr Rao said.
When contacted by NDTV, the lawyer said he was not aware that the girl is a minor.
The teen, who now goes to junior college, does not want to go back to her husband. “I want to study and do well on my own merit,” she said.
Legal experts say the girl must move court within one year to get the marriage annulled.