This tribal girl’s resistance to a marital relationship being foisted on her has come as an inspiration to many other minors from rural Jharkhand, a state that has long suffered from the malady of child marriage.
Fourteen-year-old Durga (name changed) made a daring escape from her pre-wedding ceremony at Karamtoli in Jharkhand’s Gumla district, and ran to the nearest police station for help. Local law-enforcement officers and members of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) immediately got her marriage with a middle-aged man cancelled.
“I told my parents that I want to study, but they paid no attention to me. I had no option but to escape and seek police help,” said Durga.
CWC members took Durga to Gumla deputy commissioner Shrawan Sai, who got her admitted to the local Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya on Friday.
Praising the girl for resisting societal pressure for the sake of academic progress, Sai said: “As the girl wanted to study, we got her admitted to Class 7. She will study at the school until the intermediate level.”
The news spread like wildfire in the locality, triggering outrage against her father. Firan Badaik was reportedly dragged out of his house and thrashed by neighbours. Following that, residents of the locality vowed to fight against child marriage and ostracise any family that forces girls to tie the knot at a young age.
According to the Annual Health Survey 2012-13, Jharkhand ranks third after Rajasthan and Bihar as far as child marriages are concerned. As many as 51.8% girls are married off before they turn 18 every year.
The girls, however, are starting to fight back. At least three cases of minor brides escaping in the midst of marriage celebrations have been reported since 2015, said Gumla CWC in-charge Shambhu Singh.