Rajasthan teen uses Facebook to annul her underage marriage
Sushila Bishnoi, married off at 12, provided photographs and congratulatory messages from her husband’s Facebook account, which the court accepted as evidence and declared the marriage invalid.india Updated: Oct 13, 2017 13:08 IST
A young woman in Rajasthan has proved in court she was illegally married off as a minor after submitting evidence from her husband’s Facebook page, a child rights activist said on Thursday.
Sushila Bishnoi, 19, appealed to a court to dissolve her underage marriage. But her husband denied the couple were ever betrothed, threatening to scuttle her case.
The teenager, aided by an activist, trawled her husband’s Facebook accounts until they found the smoking gun that proved their marriage occurred when she was underage.
“Many of his friends had posted congratulatory messages on his Facebook page,” said Kriti Bharti, an activist whose Sarathi Trust charity has annulled many child marriages in Rajasthan.
“The court accepted the evidence and declared the marriage invalid,” she said of the ruling on Monday.
The Rajasthan court’s order comes the same week as the Supreme Court ruling that sex with a minor was akin to rape even if the couple was married, a landmark verdict that closed a legal loophole around child marriage.
The couple were married at a secret ceremony in Barmer in 2010 when both were 12 years old.
Girls married off in Rajasthan often remain with their parents after the wedding ceremony until reaching 18 years of age, when they are sent to live with their husbands.
Bishnoi said her parents were forcing her to move to her husband’s house and consummate the marriage.
“I wanted to study but my family and my in-laws wanted me to live with a drunkard,” said Bishnoi. “It was about life and death, and I chose to live.”
She ran away from home to a shelter where she met Bharti, who helped her begin legal proceedings to dissolve the union.