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Congratulatory messages on man’s Facebook page helps annul child marriage

jaipur Updated: Oct 09, 2017 20:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Rajasthan,child marriage,Kriti Bharti

(Left) Kriti Bharti with Sushila, whose child marriage was annulled.(HT PHOTO)

Jaipur:

A family court in Jodhpur annulled the child marriage of a woman, now 19-year-old, after a non-governmental organisation produced evidence from the Facebook account of the man with whom she was married.

Kriti Bharti, managing trustee of Sarathi trust, said Sushila, a native of Barmer district, was married at the age of 12 in 2010 to Naresh of Bisalpur village in Jodhpur.

The legal age for marriage in India is 18 for women and 21 for men.

Last year, Sushila’s family members sent her to live with Naresh against her will, said Bharti. “In April last year, Sushila left her home and was rescued by me from Barmer highway late in the night. Later she was presented before the child welfare committee in Barmer and sent to a government-run women’s home,” she said.

With Bharti’s help, Sushila then filed an application in the family court in Jodhpur seeking to scrap her child marriage.

“However, her husband denied in the court about the child marriage and said that only talks of an engagement had happened. Following that we looked into the two Facebook ids of Naresh to gather evidence about the child marriage,” said Bharti, who has got 33 child marriages annulled so far.

The activist said they trawled through two Facebook accounts of Naresh and found him tagged in congratulatory messages posted by his friends. These friends were contacted and some of them had videos of the marriage. The evidence was presented at the court to prove that the child marriage had happened.

Based on the evidence, judge Rekha Bhargav of the Jodhpur family court number 1 cancelled the marriage of Sushila.

“My marriage has been annulled with the help of Kriti didi. Now I can pursue my dreams of being a police officer to work for a better future,” said Sushila.

Among all states, more girls (8.3% of those aged 10 to 17) and boys (8.6% of those aged 10 to 20) married in Rajasthan before legal age, according to a study by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights based on 2011 census data.

Activists welcomed the court decision. “A strong message has been sent against child marriage. Susheela is currently studying and we are working for the successful rehabilitation of her life,” said Bharti.

“We are happy with the court decision of annulling the child marriage of Susheela. Efforts are being made to rehabilitate her,” said Rajendra Chabra, president, child welfare committee, Jodhpur.

First Published: Oct 09, 2017 20:42 IST