Child marriages on the rise in India amid the COVID-19 pandemic

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NEW DELHI — The call came on Aug 18 at 1:45 pm, a little before Mr Narayana Sukla was about to settle for lunch.

He heard a girl sob on the line. “Please rescue me immediately or they will kill me,” the 12-year-old told him.

“My mother has forced me to get married but I want to study,” she pleaded, using her 19-year-old husband’s phone on the sly.

A coordinator for Childline India Foundation, which manages a government-supported national helpline for children in distress, Mr Sukla knew he had no time to lose.

He called up concerned government officers and promptly left his office in Cuttack in the state of Odisha.

Born to poor and illiterate parents, the girl had bee…

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