Pinki Tanwar was just a 10-year-old when she was married off to Himmat Singh, in Thanagazi, a town in the Alwar district of Rajasthan. From then on, her life was filled with terror, as he frequently showed up on the family’s doorstep, trying to force himself on her, by requesting her “gauna”.
The ritual of “gauna” is frequently seen in child marriages across India. Usually, when the marriage occurs, the child still lives at home, with her parents, and it is only after the “gauna” ceremony is complete, that the marriage is consummated and the bride goes to live with her husband. For Pinki, it was emotional torture, as she was not ready to give in to the pressure. According to a report by The Hindu, on one occasion, her in-laws tried to kidnap her from her home.
Help came to the child bride though the Saarthi Trust, a welfare organisation, which has a campaign that helps child brides get their marriages annulled. Pinki’s mother, Meera Devi, heard about this campaign and contacted the organisation.
It proved to be the best decision she could have ever made for her daughter.
Managing trustee, Dr Kriti Bharti asked Pinki to come to Jodhpur, where she then provided her with protection. It was here that her rehabilitation process began. The young girl filled out a petition to get her marriage annulled, and Dr Kriti stood for her in court, making sure that the process happened smoothly.
Finally, in February 2018, the court declared that a childhood alliance which she was forced into could not be declared valid and granted her the long-awaited key to freedom.
“We want children to break free from the handcuffs of child marriage. We are trying to give them a new life when they felt like there was no other choice”, the trust writes.
According to the Saarthi Trust, they have facilitated the annulment of over 30 victims of child marriage, and are in the process of saving nine more!
Today, after almost ten years of marriage to a man she never really knew, Pinki is a free woman.
She cleared the exams for the Pre-Teacher Eligibility Test and has now joined a college to pursue her B.Ed.
Says Pinki, in The Hindu, “Now that my so-called marriage is over, I will study hard and become a teacher.”
From a life that was filled with fear, Pinki now has the license to follow her dreams. More importantly, she is happy and is on a path to reach greater heights!