Married off at 8, Rajasthan woman cracks NEET with in-laws’ support
Her story reflects how she emerged from the shadows of child marriage to make a career for herself, with support from her husband and in-laws.india Updated: Jul 01, 2017 08:42 IST
She was a child bride, married at eight and sent to her husband’s home before she passed Class 10.
But before she turns 21 on July 5 this year, Rupa Yadav of Jaipur’s Kareri village will get admission to a government medical college in Rajasthan to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor.
Her story reflects how she emerged from the shadows of child marriage to make a career for herself, with support from her husband and in-laws.
Child marriage is illegal in India but common in rural, poor communities where a girl is seen as a financial burden. Girls are also married young because of fears for their safety.
Rupa was in Class 3 when she got married to 12-year-old Shankar Lal, then a seventh-standard student, during the wedding of elder sister Rukma Devi. The sister wedded Shankar’s elder brother.
She moved into to her husband’s home after writing the Class 10 exam. She was with her in-laws when the results were declared. She scored 84%.
There was no school in Shankar’s village. But because Rupa wanted to study, he got her admitted to a private school, 6km away.
Besides, women in the neighbourhood told her mother-in-law, who is unlettered, that she should allow Rupa to continue her education.
After passing Class 12, she went to college for a BSc degree and took the All-India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) to study medicine. Her test ranking was 23,000 and she didn’t qualify for an MBBS course.
“Someone suggested I go to Kota to get coached for the competition. But I wasn’t sure if my in-laws will agree to that,” she said.
But her husband and his elder brother agreed to send her to Kota. “They began driving auto-rickshaws to fund my expenses,” she said.
In 2016, she bettered her performance but not enough to make it to a medical college.
The family had no means to allow her to continue for another year in Kota.
People in the village were already talking against the family’s decision to send her there. “They would say, ‘She should be here to cook for the family and do household chores.’ But my husband had faith in me.”
“When the coaching institute where I was enrolled waived 75% of my fees, my husband found it easier to convince the family to let me be there for one more year,” she said.
In this year’s NEET, she scored 603 out of 720 and secured a national rank of 2,283. She’s participating in counselling for college allotment and is sure to find a berth at a government medical college in Rajasthan.
“I’m hoping to get into SMS Medical College in Jaipur,” she said.
Naveen Maheshwari, the director of Allen Career Institute that coached her, announced a monthly scholarship for the four years of her MBBS course “to honour of her hard work”.
Rupa’s husband Shankar, an arts graduate who is into farming with his brother on the family’s 13 bighas, is happy to stand by his wife’s decisions.