To-Be-Child Bride Seeks Help from School Principal to Stop Marriage
Duli Hembrom is a 13-year old girl from Ranchi. While every girl of her age is enjoying their summer vacations, the young Duli is being forced to get married. But, Duli, being keen on completing her education, wrote to her principal about how she was being forced into the marriage, as a last resort.
“My parents have fixed my wedding on April 22. I do not want to get married,” Duli says in the letter. She also mentions about the oath she took at school at the time of admission. “I took an oath at the time of admission that I will not get married before I turn 18. I do not wish to get married early,” Duli writes.
But, Duli’s father justifies his action of marrying off his daughter at an early age. He says that it is a common thing in the society for a girl to get married at an early age or he may find it difficult to find a groom for Duli, once she grows up.
Duli understands the importance of education and therefore, she decided to put in the effort. But many girls do not dare to, mainly because they are not aware of the consequences of being a child bride or because they are too afraid to fight for their rights. As a result, child marriage still exists in many countries in South Asia like India, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Mostly, the little girls are married off to men, who are twice or thrice their age. It is a shameful fact that 47% of the world’s child marriages occur in India, which claims to be a fast developing country.
According to the Indian law, the legal marriageable age for girls is 18 years and for boys, it is 21 years. But, girls are married off before the legal age and sadly, most of them are below 15 years of age. As a result of being married off at a tender age, these girls will have to discontinue their education. Therefore, they won’t be eligible for any jobs and they will have to depend on their husbands for a living. Most of them are also subjected to physical and sexual abuse. Early child birth can cause their health to deteriorate. They won’t have the right to choose their lives or have control over their bodies.
Gender bias is the main reason behind child marriages. Some people feel that women do not deserve to go ahead in life and that they have to be confined to the kitchens of their husbands’ houses. Also, many parents, especially those who belong to rural areas, are not aware of the effects child marriages can have on their daughters. Some parents are too poor to afford even the basic amenities that they “sell off” their daughters as child brides.
What can be done?
- Laws against child marriages have to be strictly enforced
- Rural villages are home to majority of child marriages. Local and national governments can act together to volunteer local communities, village councils and health practitioners to report child marriages happening in the village
- NGO communities and other local communities in rural areas should come forward to educate people about the negative consequences of child marriages and the health risks following it
Half of India’s population is female. With education and right opportunities, even girls can contribute to the socio-economic growth of the country, just like boys. Women like Kalpana Chawla, Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal etc. would not have been popular and made the country proud if they were not given the opportunity. Let us not burden our girls with marital responsibilities at a tender age. Let them learn and let them design their own destiny. Say No to child marriage.