When she was 11, her brothers married her off to her husband: a stranger who was 10 years older than her. She was scared, hurt and desperate. She expressed the will to pursue her studies. Her family granted her wish, and she joined an ‘informal’ school operated by the local NGO. However, her nightmares turned real when she 16. Her family wanted to ship her off to her husband’s place to live with her in-laws. The 16-year-old child bride, a student of class ten, was nothing but a commodity for her family.
But fate had different plans in store for the child bride. On May 30, 2017, her classmates cautioned the management on her absence when she missed classes for ten days in a row.
The friends approached her family who informed them that they had sent the girl to her in-laws. Following this, the buddies, most of them being barefooted, searched high and low for any traces of the child bride. The search mission was full of ups and downs. The bunch of teens visited the police station and Women Commissions, seeking help to rescue her friend without any success.
The so-called guardians showed no sympathy towards poor kids, making excuses to avoid their duties. No one could’ve helped her unless the girl’s parents register a complaint in this case. Amidst adverse circumstances, they encountered the contact number of the district collector Mr. Siddharth Mahajan.
The group of friends, comprising of six girls and seven boys, sobbed and relayed their story, desperately requesting his help. Moved by their efforts, the collector sprung to action and sent the cops to bring the girl to the office of the district CWC (child welfare committee).
Upon questioning the girl, they were shocked to know that all of it was a part of an unrequited social custom. Anju’s fate was sealed in 2012 when her brother got married to a girl in her husband’s clan. She belongs to a community involved in exchanging girls. To get a daughter-in-law for the sons, people give their daughters in return.
Initially, the CWC sent the girl to a shelter home, but the friends weren’t satisfied with this arrangement. After a lot of thinking and discussion, the officers coaxed the girl’s family to request her release from CWC. The idea was to get her re-enrolled in the school so she could complete her education.
Having received a hero’s welcome at her school, she regained her lost confidence. With strength and support from her friends and teachers, the girl decided to move the Jaipur family court, requesting an annulment of her marriage. She wants to build up her career before she decides to get married in future.
The incident is an inspiring tale for countless careless citizens who turn a blind eye to social evils. The kids are mascots of the campaign against child marriage. We salute their courageous spirit.