Fathima Mangre from Shravasti district of Uttar Pradesh was just four years old when she was married off to 10-year-old Arjun Bakridi. After getting married, Fathima continued to live with her family till she was eight years old.
But her father thankfully had a change of heart when the boy’s family came to pick up the bride.
Photo source: Twitter
Anil Magre told Scoopwhoop, “I finally realised that this practice of marrying off daughters so young was wrong and that she should have a childhood and that it was my duty to provide that.”
Though illegal, the practice of child marriage is still common in many parts of rural India. A 2014 UN report suggested that India has the second highest number of child marriages in South Asia. Parents who are involved in this practice are usually very poor and child marriage is often a way to reduce the expenses in a family.
Anil’s decision to not send his daughter to her in-laws home caused tension between both families. He told them he would like to keep her in their house till she was 18 and wouldn’t send her before that. The boy’s parents did not agree to this.
The National Commission for Women intervened in the matter and ensured Fathima got a divorce in 2013. That’s how she became the world’s youngest divorcee at the age of eight.
The Uttar Pradesh government called for an inquiry into the incident. Nirmala Samant, from the Commission, threatened action against both sets of parents. Anil apologised for the incident and asked to be pardoned.
“I have already admitted my mistake. Social pressures are high in our village. But the marriage has been annulled. I have admitted it was wrong to marry her off so early. I now want to make things right. I want to give my daughter a good childhood. I will do everything to protect her,” says a repentant Anil.
Hopefully he’s set an example for other families that still indulge in this practice.