ETA: North-East Women’s Network Group, a non-profit organisation, has filed a complaint, urging several statutory bodies, including Manipur State Commission for Women, Manipur Human Rights Commission and the Director General of Police, Manipur, to initiate an urgent investigation and action thereof in the case of the alleged forced marriage of Ms. Nongthombam Tina Devi of Luwangsaangbam Makha Leikai, Heingang on December 11, 2021.
The petition explained that ETA is a non-profit organisation committed to the social and economic empowerment of women from North East India, with over 4000 women members, mostly from Manipur.
ETA further said the reference of the complaint is the “shockingly painful videos of the alleged forced marriage” of the said girl which seemingly took place on December 10 and has gone viral since across Manipur.
It said the 22 year old woman, Tina was seen seemingly forced to marry Phairenbam William, 44, from Keirang Maning Leikai.
The videos show the bride resisting the marriage ceremony and at one point, tearing the garland provided to her to garland and solemnise her marriage with the groom. Her desperate gesture to prevent the marriage concluding was met with abuses and condemnations from the wedding parties and she seemingly fell unconscious in shock and distress, the petition further said.
The wedding ceremony however was concluded by the masters and mistresses of the ceremony without the consent of the bride, who was made to complete the garland exchange ritual with the use of physical force on her person.
“Given the contents of these disturbing videos, prima facie there seems to be a grave violation of the bride’s human and constitutional rights, and of various laws intended to protect women.” The petition further said.
It also said ETA was informed by their credible sources that Tina was subject to severe mental pressures for several months, traumatising her. According to this information, she was allegedly forcibly restrained from leaving here parental home during this period despite her wishing to do so.
ETA release said its members have not been able to contact Tina personally and confirm her stand as well as state of being, therefore urged these legal authorities to use their power to ensure Tina is safe, secure and well, for they suspect she may come to further grave harm.
ETA urged the two commissions and the police “to kindly investigate this matter fully and expeditiously in line with the applicable laws, and assure that Ms. Nongthombam Tina Devi is afforded due protection and the ability to make a free and informed choice with any coercion, undue pressure or force being applied to her.”
The non-profit organisation also pleaded with these statutory bodies to at the same time to bring the alleged perpetrators to book and persecute them with the full force of the law, so that justice is done and other persons are deterred from committing similar violations in the future.
It also added that “given the imminent danger to the life and liberty of the purported victim, Ms. Nongthombam Tina Devi, any day is likely to be highly prejudicial.”