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Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019

Child bride moves court to annul marriage in Rajasthan

The girl was married when she was only 10-month-old.

jaipur Updated: Apr 10, 2018 21:56 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Urma Bishnoi  (left) with Dr Kriti Bharti.
Urma Bishnoi (left) with Dr Kriti Bharti. (HT Photo)

After suffering for 18 long years, Urma Bishnoi finally gathered the courage to approach the court to get her child marriage annulled.

Bishnoi, who was married when she was just a 10-month-old infant, received support from Dr Kriti Bharti, rehabilitation psychologist and managing trustee of Saarthi Trust, who challenged her child marriage in the family court-1 of Jodhpur on Tuesday.

Bishnoi, from Jambanagar of Kaparda village of Jodhpur, was married off to a boy from the same village in 1999.

After the 19-year-old became an adult she refused to accept the marriage. Bishnoi’s in-laws started putting pressure on the family and also threatened with dire consequences like cutting their nose and ears. Certain caste panchs are also threatening the family of a social boycott if the child marriage is annulled. Bishnoi and her family are frightened.

“I do not accept child marriage. I was married when I was just 10 months. I want to study. With Kriti didi’s help, I have filed the case and hope to get justice soon,” said Bishnoi.

“Bishnoi is under tremendous mental pressure due to her in-laws. A case has been filed in the court for the annulment of the child marriage,” said Bharti.

Bharti of Saarthi Trust had got the first annulment of child marriage in India and in 2015 she got another two child marriages annulled in three days of court proceedings and created history. The trust has annulled 35 child marriages in India and also prevented thousands of child marriages.

According to a Supreme Court observation, there are 23 million child brides in India, the highest in the world.

National Family Health Survey (2015-16) data shows that 26.8% of girls in India are married before their 18th birthday. In Rajasthan, the percentage of such girls is 35.

Though boys are also married off early, it is the girls who are most affected. Health experts say early and forced marriages lead to early and unsafe motherhood, putting the lives of the girls at risk. According to the NFHS data, 7.9% women in the 15-19 age group were already mothers or pregnant at the time of the survey.