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Child marriages in Rajasthan are poll-itically correct.

Jaipur: As Rajasthan prepares for Assembly election on December 4, child marriages continues to be a harsh reality in the state.

Recently footage of a five-year-old girl and a ten-year-old boy getting married in an Ajmer Village emerged, indicating that with eyes on votes, checking child marriages is low on priority for all the political parties. In fact, many child marriages were only recently 'solemnised' around the auspicious Dev Uthni Ekadashi.

The district administration, which is supposed to check such marriages Under the Prevention of Child Marriages Act, says it is helpless.

"Koi bhi kanoon bana lijiye, agar who hamare customs ke khilaaf hoga toh sweekar nahi hoga (No matter what the law is, if it is not in accordance with their customs then they will certainly not accept it)," District Magistrate, Ajmer, Naveen Mahajan says.

Barely a few kilometers away, another victim of child marriage is now living a nightmare. Two days ago, two strangers from Gujarat came to take 19-year-old Sangeeta away. One introduced himself as her husband and the other, her mother-in-law.

"I don't know what marriage means. I was just five-six years old when I got married. I'm now nineteen. When we told our caste elders that I didn't want to go, they insisted on sending me with them," Sangeeta says.

Child marriages are common in many parts of Rajasthan, especially on days of religious significance like Akha Teej and Dev Uthni Ekadashi.

In fact, child marriage continues to be a reality for about 50 per cent of the girls in the villages of Kota, Dungarpur, Jhalawar and Barmer, but the situation is particularly bad just two and a half hours from Jaipur in Ajmer, where a similar percentage of girls get married even before they turn ten.

Social activists believe child marriages go on uninterrupted because of a lack of political will.

"Politicians lack the will to check child marriages to guard their votes from various communities in which the practice is still followed," social activist Lalita Dave says.

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Added: Nov-17-2008 
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