Heartbreaking footage captured a mass child marriage ceremony where girls as young as five were forced to wed older grooms. Most of the girls were crying but in one distressing clip, a 10-year-old girl weeps uncontrollably as she holds the hand of her teenage partner. The girl has her head covered with a fuschia-coloured scarf and is span round by her father and another man as she desperately pleads for help. The footage was recorded over the weekend in Chittorgarh, a city in Rajasthan, northern India, a state in the country that is prevalent for child marriages.
In another clip a faith leader - conducting the Hindu ritual - is also seen scolding the children for crying. Six marriages took place in two days around the Akshaya Tritiya, a Hindu festival believed to be auspicious for child marriages in rural India. One of the child brides, a five-year-old girl pictured below, is seen dressed in a red Hindu bridal dress and is forced to walk around the fire with her child groom, an 11-year-old boy. She’s crying loudly but a man forces her to complete the Hindu wedding ritual, which involves walking around the fire seven times.
The identities of the others in the footage are yet to be confirmed by police, who have already registered a case against the several families that forced their children to marry but all are currently on the run and in hiding.
District Magistrate of Chittorgarh, Ved Prakash, said: "As soon as we came to know about these incidents we sent teams out to find the culprits. "Once they are caught the marriages of their children will be void and the court will decide strict action against them. "We have stopped several child marriages in the past but at times, fearing police, the villagers opt for a secretive venue which may be outside their district or village. "Many do not report the incident to police even in fear of the social pressures."
Child rights activist Kriti Bharti, 28, and founder of Saarthi Trust , a charity for the welfare of child brides and other vulnerable children said: "My heart goes out to these little children trapped in this tragedy. "The police should have acted immediately as the video clearly shows a priest was involved.
"Action should not only be taken against the families but each adult involved in the ceremony including the decorators, caterers, attendees, relatives etc."
Source: Mirror UK