Probation home for girls doubles up as marriage bureau!

March 29th, 2008 - 9:39 am ICT by admin  

By Nityanand Shukla
Ranchi, March 29 (IANS) Manini, who spent seven years at the probation home for girls in this Jharkhand capital, had never imagined that one day she would be out of its confines and be happily married. But earlier this month, the 23-year-old tied the knot with Sanjay Karmakar, 32, a lawyer in the Jharkhand High Court. And it happened at the initiative of the probation home authorities.

“One more daughter of mine has got married. I pray to god the married couple leads a happy life,” said Supreme Court Justice Altamas Kabir in whose presence the marriage was solemnised.

Till now 17 such marriages have been solemnised. And there are scores of men who are coming forward to marry these women who have been languishing in the probation home of Ranchi.

It houses girls under the age of 18 and women who were brought there as teenagers but continued to stay on after adulthood. At present, the probation home has 63 inmates. These girls are either orphans or destitute or those caught for petty crimes. Manini, for instance, was caught when she was travelling ticketless on a train.

To get the girls married, the probation home places advertisements in local newspapers. Interested bridegrooms then approach officials.

Of course, it’s not always easy for men to marry women in probation homes because of social stigma.

Explained Karmakar: “I decided to marry without taking any dowry. My sister committed suicide as her in-laws were torturing her for dowry. I decided to marry a girl who needed my support,” said Karmakar.

“I had to make serious efforts to convince my parents for the marriage. Now they are happy with the marriage.”

Mamta Devi, another inmate, got married three years ago.

She said: “I was arrested by Delhi Police several years ago. When I said that I belonged to Dhanbad district, they transferred me to the Ranchi probation home where I grew up.

“I never imagined that I would lead a happy married life. The effort of officials of the probation home ensured a better life for me,” she said.

The authorities check the credentials of the prospective bridegrooms. The scrutiny includes finding out the crime record, if any, diseases like AIDS and other aspects. The officials then issue verification certificates following which the girls are married.

The probation home is gradually turning into a marriage bureau for the women who were caught for committing crimes or were abandoned by their husbands.

“Our motive is to ensure a peaceful and happy life for women who are languishing here for years,” said Deepak Vidyarathi, an official of the probation home. “The marriage of each woman is a big moment for us,” he said.

“We look for suitable grooms after getting consent from the interested women.”

Renu Sinha, superintendent of the probation home, said: “We feel great to get the girls married. Most of the destitute girls are languishing here. I feel overwhelmed by performing the ‘kanyadaan’ (giving away a girl in marriage).”

The officials said the parents and other family members of women who get sent to probation homes usually never come forward to take them back.

“On several occasions, we placed advertisements in local newspapers giving full details of the women and appealed to their parents to take them back. After the period of punishment is over we cannot keep them in a probation home, but at the same time we cannot throw them out,” said an official of the probation home.

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