Amar Ujala Varanasi, August 14, 2012
Girls strive against Child marriage ‘Will not do kitchen, I want to get educated’ Ajai Rai
Varanasi: Manisha’s marriage was arranged by her father Ramlal at the age of 13 with a man much elder to her in a temple. Members of the Munshi Premchand Bal Panchayat served notice to Ramlal and warned him for imprisonment. There was tension for several days and at last the girls managed to convince Ramlal to send Manisha to her in-laws only when she attains the age of an adult. This was the start of a campaign against child marriage. Gradually five other girls refused to marry at an early age. Voice of these five girls is now reaching high and there are 40 other fellows in the caravan. All have one target—oppose child marriage. First get educated and become self dependant and then enter the family way. Jyoti of Hukulganj, Pooja Thatera, Chanda Rajbhar of Bhagwanala, Madhuri Banwasi, Vimla Musahar of Kuwar Village have similar stories. All of these got married at the age of 13-14 years but refused to go with their in-laws. They told their parents that they are not ready to take up house hold responsibilities and strongly resisted any move taken to send them to in-laws. Says Chanda, “Memebers of Bal Panchayat performed street plays and I was their leader. When my marriage was fixed at a tender age of it was my responsibility to oppose it. I left food and water as protest and after a few days of struggle my mother agreed to my demand.” Vimla and Madhuri but didn’t had an easy path to victory. They had to leave their homes while protesting against their marriage and they came to PVCHR office where Shruti helped them. The family was given ultimatum of a police complaint in case they insisted upon child marriage. When the family agreed to postpone the marriage the people in the neighbourhood started criticizing the family. All the five girls were felicitated for their attempts at the public function organized on July 31, the anniversary of Munshi Premchand. All of these girls are getting educated and are in class 11 and 12. Not only these girls but 40 others who refused to child marriage are with them. The education for these girls is sponsored by Parul Sharma an NRI living in Sweden. In the district there are six Bal Panchayats running in the name of Premchand, Sant Raidas, and other great men in Chiraigaon, Belwan, Baghwanala. Children associated with these Bal Panchayats organize street plays and children parliament. Some of these children even raise issued with the officials such as the district magistrate. PVCHR coordinator Dr Lenin says it was after this campaign that he could understand that the mind of a child gets very deep impact with learning.