Maneesha, a 13 year old girl, is a resident of Ward No. 7, Baghawanala, Hukulganj, Varanasi in India and belongs to a Scheduled Caste family. Her father, as being an illiterate person, earns livelihood for his family by working as a daily wage laborer or by pulling rickshaw. Last year in the month of August he arranged the marriage of her above named daughter Maneesha with a man. Being an illiterate girl and totally dependent upon her father in patriarchy, Maneesha did make any protest and got married at the age of thirteen.
It happened as usual and did not receive any opposition from the neighbors in the locality. But soon the information regarding this child marriage of Maneesha came to the knowledge of the children, who are students of Full Time Centre at Baghawanala and associated with the Munshi Premchandra Bal Panchayat, composed of taking other children from the Baghawanala area and working on the issues of children welfare and for their awareness on social issues. Here, it is also relevant to know that this Bal Panchayat has been formed with the help of the Peoples Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), trained and encouraged by its activists to raise their voice against social evils, including child marriage.
Ms. Pooja, Ms. Jyoti and Ms. Chanda, all these three girls who are actively involved in the activities of Munshi Premchandra Bal Panchayat and former students of Full Time Centre at Baghawanala decided to raise their voice against this child marriage. These girls immediately informed of this illegal marriage to the teachers of Full Time Centre at Baghawanala. They organized an urgent and joint meeting of Munshi Premchandra Bal Panchayat and Kishori Baithak to chalk out programmes to oppose the child marriage of Maneesha. The children associated with Bal Panchayat, in the leadership of above named three girls, prepared posters and handbills in the opposition of the child marriage and distributed it in the locality, including Maneesh’s parents. They talked with the parents of Maneesha about the illegality of the marriage and warned them to face the legal consequences.
Again, they organized a meeting of Munshi Premchandra Bal Panchayat and asked Maneesh’s parents to come in the meeting. In the meeting, Maneesha’s parents agreed to send Maneesha to her in-laws house after she attains the age of 18. But just next day of the meeting, husband of Maneesha forcefully took Maneesha to his house. When Ms. Pouja, Ms. Jyoti and Ms. Chanda came to know about this incident, they went to Maneesha’s in-laws house and forced them to see Maneesha off their house and took her to her parents house. After a long discussion between the representatives of Munshi Premchandra Bal Panchayat Maneesha’s in-laws agreed in written to see Maneesha off from her parental home after she attains the age of 18.
For this daring initiative of Ms. Pooja, Ms. Jyoti and Ms. Chanda against the child marriage, PVCHR honored above named girls on July 19, 2010 at hotel Kamesh. After wide coverage of this daring acts of Ms. Pooja, Ms. Jyoti and Ms. Chanda against child marriage in the local print media and electronic media, Marwadi Youth Committee also organized a honor ceremony and honored these girls for their action against the child marriage. Among others dignitaries, Sri D.K.Thakur, Deputy Inspector General of Police of Varanasi Zone, famous industrialist Sri JhunJhunwala was present at the occasion.