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Voices From The Ground

“I was just 15 years old when I got married to a person 12 years older than me. On the day of my marriage, I sat there like a kid out with her family, hoping to return back home with them by the evening. But the kid never returned, instead was subjected to domestic violence by in-laws and the husband. I lived this life till the birth of my third child. After which, I gathered courage and with the support of my children, I pursued education and founded, ‘Chotanagpur Kalyan Niketan,’ Simdega, Jharkhand. 

The memories of my life as a child bride have kept me from attending even legal marriages till date. I wish to fight against the social evil of child marriage through my organisation and ensure the end of this practice.”

 

Priyanka Sinha, 49, Simdega, Jharkhand, Head of the Organisation of ‘Chotanagpur Kalyan Niketan’

"I was only 15, studying in class 10, when I was married off. Within a year, I was grappling with the responsibility of motherhood, started facing health issues due to early pregnancy, and was also subjected to domestic violence. It has taken me decades to gather the courage to resume my education and today I am financially independent. I pledge that I won't let my girls, or any child around me face the atrocities of child marriage.” 

Ruchi (name changed), 35, Haryana, Counselor with Non-Profit Organisation

“I was married when I was 12 years old. At 14, I had my first daughter. 6 days later she died. I had 4 children after that, they all survived only a few days after birth. Now my entire body hurts and I am not able to do even daily chores.

 

My sister was 9 when she was also married along with me. Her first 5 children also died like mine! 

 

Child Marriage is a very bad thing and no child should be subjected to it.”

Shakuntala, 50, New Delhi

Better late than never

Yashmin*, a 16-year-old resident of Nalbari District, Assam, was studying in 10th standard when her family decided to marry her to a man 17 years older to her. She wanted to study as much as she could and earn money to support her family. But her father, a daily wage labourer and the only breadwinner for the family could not fulfil her wish and arranged her marriage. When Yashmin resisted the marriage her parents asked her to arrange money to join college or else she would have to agree to their decision of marriage. Unfortunately, she could not arrange for the money and had to succumb to her parents' decision. On 5th July, 2023, a community member informed about Yashmin’s child marriage to CMFI partner NGO Assam Centre for Rural Development (ACRD). ARCD reported the information to the Child Marriage Prohibition Officer (CMPO) who registered an FIR in the case and arrested the husband under section 9 and 10 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act,(PCMA) 2006, and section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, (POCSO) 2012. Being married early and being subjected to domestic abuse, physical and emotional turmoil at a tender age, she was taken to a nearby hospital for a health check up. During the check-up it was revealed that she was 4 months pregnant. Her parents were informed and seeing her condition and understanding what their little child suffered because of their decision, they agreed to abort the child. They assured Yashmin that they will find ways to let her complete her education and will not force her to marry until she reaches the legal age. ARCD maintained constant communication with Yashmin and her family and helped them in enrolling her back to school. The family was also facilitated in accessing social welfare schemes of the government to help their sustenance and prevent Yashmin or any one in her family from being vulnerable to exploitation again.

Prompt action from all stakeholders led to saving 2 minors from falling into the trap of child marriage

Rajasthan Mahila Kalyan Mandal (RMKM), a member of child marriage free india campaign, acted upon an information that led to preventing the marriage of two minors from the same household in Nagaur district Rajasthan. On December 06, 2023, RMKM received information from a local photographer about the proposed wedding ceremony of minors in the district. The team from RMKM visited the location to verify the information and understand the family's situation. The children had lost their father at a very early age and their mother had remarried under the Nata Pratha and left them with their father’s family. The members of the household considered these children (the boy aged 8-years-old and a girl aged 10-years-old) as a burden and decided to marry them off. The neighbours informed the team that on a previous occasion the children’s mother had protested against the marriage of her children but her efforts went in vain on the account of her marriage to a person out of the village. The RMKM team promptly wrote a letter to the Chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in Nagaur district, Rajasthan urging appropriate legal action against those involved in facilitating the child marriages. Subsequently, directives were issued to the Sub-Divisional Officer, local police station of Nagaur district, Rajasthan, for immediate intervention to prevent child marriages. When the team reached the location, the pre-wedding rituals were being conducted. The team tried to persuade the family to stop the marriage and informed the attendees about the legal actions that they can be subjected to as per the law for mere attending the child marriage. After long hours of persuasion, the family agreed and pledged to not marry the children in their families before the age of 18(girls) and 21(boys) in the presene of the government authorities Additional Child Development Project Officer, Child Welfare Committee (CWC). The efforts of RMKM, government officials and the support of the community members led to saving the lives of two young children of the family.

बाल विवाह से निपटने के लिए PICKET रणनीति

On December 06, 2023, Pradeepan, a partner of the Child Marriage Free India Campaign received information from a Community Social Worker (CSW) that preparations were going on for the marriage celebrations of two minor children in January 2024. On the same day, the team informed the Ranipur police station authorities in Betul district, Madhya Pradesh. Station-House-Officer (SHO) initiated the process to take appropriate legal action against those involved in arranging the marriage. A team was formed with the Sub-Inspector, Supervisor from the Women and Child Development (WCD) department and an Anganwadi worker. On December 06, 2023, the team reached the children’s home in Basner Dhana village in Betul district, Madhya Pradesh. On reaching the location, it was realised that both the children had dropped out of school, where the boy had studied till 10th and the girl till 8th standard. The team counselled the family to not conduct their children’s marriage before the legal age as defined by the law. The families were also briefed about the punishments under The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 which states, ‘whoever performs, conducts, directs or abets any child marriage shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years and shall be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees unless he proves that he had reasons to believe that the marriage was not a child marriage’. The persuasion led to the parents pledging to not marry their children before attaining the legal age in the presence of the government authorities Additional Child Development Project Officer, Child Welfare Committee. After calling off the marriage, the organisation continued to maintain constant contact with the children and their families. The children have been re-enrolled in school to continue their education. The boy has expressed interest in pursuing a course through Industrial Training Institute (ITI) under Pradhan Mantri Youth Training Program, skill development initiative scheme of the Government of India.

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