Saturday, March 8, 2014

A woman (not a girl) needs a husband

A little girl has to bear so much (unfair) burden on her shoulders, if she stays silent it will be torture, if she speaks out it may mean jail for her loved ones.Thus it is the society as a whole that needs to catch up and act as a mediator. It is really simple- girls need to stay in school and then be encouraged to "go to college." I am not sure why parents in this day and age are ignorant of age restrictions (unless as often faith creates confusion). The groom's family should be also blamed for trying to take advantage of innocence (the worry is that older girls will not be as willing to bend to the wishes of her elders, especially mother-in-law).

Isha (name changed) told TOI that she always wanted to study but as soon as she turned 15, her parents decided to marry her off. In December, they told her that they had fixed a match for her and she must get ready for marriage.

The Class IX student protested, pleaded and confronted them but her parents refused to understand why she wanted to "finish school and go to college". In fact, they grew alarmed by her resistance and stopped her from stepping out of the house. They even barred her from going to the school in Tangra.

The marriage was fixed for March 7. The groom was a youth from Sodepur, a small-time businessman. As the day grew closer, Isha got panicky. Luckily for her, some friends supported her after she confided in them.

On Thursday night, a little after 8, she persuaded a friend to call Childline. Volunteers immediately sought the help of Pragati Maidan police station and a combined team of police and NGO activists landed up at her house around 11pm.

"I had been trying to reason with my parents that I wanted to study and that I am too young to get married. But they couldn't understand. And they kept insisting I would not get a better match than this one. I was at a loss as how to deal with the situation because no one was trying to understand the trauma I was going through," recounted the girl.

"Also, I knew nothing about the man 'arranged' for me," she said. "All that I wanted was to escape the marriage so that I could continue with my studies."

Help came just hours before she was to be decked up as a bride. Her parents were served a warning.

"We were not aware that we cannot marry off our daughter before she turns 18. We arranged the marriage thinking of her future and because the groom is a good lad," said the father, who was summoned to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) office on Friday.

"I am relived and happy that the marriage did not take place. But I am worried for my parents. I do not want them go through any kind of trouble. I hope they are not jailed. The marriage did not take place so they have not committed any crime. I want them to be let off," said the girl.  


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