It is unfortunate that child marriage is still a common travesty in parts of our country. The laws are present, but they are not always reinforced. Child marriage is a violation of law but if it has already taken place, the annulment of marriage has to be formally petitioned for, if one partner or both want to have it annulled. Moreover, the practice of annulment is frowned upon in the local communities.
In such a situation, Santadevi, a girl hailing from Rajasthan is truly courageous to step forward and ask for annulment.
Santadevi Meghwal is a 19-year-old girl from Rohicha Khurd village in Luni tahsil, 70km from Jodhpur, Rajasthan. She was about 11 months old when she was married off to a nine year old local boy. She was never told about the marriage and she discovered it only when she was 16. She wants nothing to do with the marriage. She has been studying in Jai Narayan Vyas University, Jodhpur, and wants to continue her studies and become a teacher.
The Panchayat stamped her family with a Rs. 16 lakhs fine for denying the marriage. The social community is boycotting them and for a while, her parents also were against whatever she stood up for. Her so-called husband had resorted to stalking and her in laws have been threatening to take her away by force. She was scared, but she held her fort and did not get deterred from her goal. Now her father is also supporting her. She plans to go to the family court and ask for the annulment.
Kriti Sarthi Trust from Jodhpur is helping her. The Women and Child Welfare department has sought details and offered Meghwals legal help. The ministry has also instructed administration to take action against the Panchayat, and investigations on the Panchayat have been opened.
Let us all admire the courage and step that Santadevi did not back out from and hope that she emerges triumphant from her struggle.
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