In Focus 8th July, 2016

#EarlyMarriage – A Quick Recap.

There are some revolutions that do not see tanks rolling on streets or the men who stand before them. There are some revolutions that stand steady on the backs of solitary acts of defiance. Some revolutions live in the dead of the night, in the quiet confines of windowless classrooms or in the protracted squabbles in village squares.

If you’re one to be inspired by David and Goliath stories, if you root for the underdog in movies, and if you’ve been following our #EarlyMarriage series, you’re already concerned about the children who have to face the grotesque and sickening practice of child marriage.

This post is about the triumph of a girl who stood up to her parents wanting to marry her off, alerted school authorities, mobilized 14 of her classmates and confronted her parents, to secure her right to education; the despair of a girl who faces the prospect of child marriage despite it taking her elder sister’s life; the hope of a girl who avoided an inevitable early marriage and now wants to be a nurse and help people.

They are not alone. Around the country, girls are increasingly fighting back, suing for their freedom, participating in workshops and educating elders about the evils of this oppressive, and highly illegal, social practice. However, now is the time for us to respond. Young girls around the country are increasingly fighting to break their chains, in which they have been shackled by desolation, poverty and tradition. Now it’s time we had their backs.

As we have seen in every story, adults and community have a huge role to play in stopping child marriages. Girls who receive support from their schools, peers, law enforcement and communities are far more likely to escape child marriage than girls who stand alone. In that context, standing up to these families can be a daunting task, albeit one that we as a society are morally obligated to do.

When communities get together to stop child marriages, when law works the way it is supposed to, when officials step in to do their jobs, when local Panchayat officials stand guard to these girls, then girls grow up to have dreams and hopes, instead of burdens. And when state machinery breaks down, and when communities choose to keep to themselves or when village panchayats fail to protect them, their cries of protest often go unheard, entrapping them in a cycle that eventually consumes them. And for that, we’re all to blame.

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