Jodhpur: Kanchan, who had endured the burden of child marriage for over a decade, finally experienced true liberation on Friday. A family court in Jodhpur invalidated her child marriage following the intervention of the Saarthi Trust.
Kanchan, the daughter of a shopkeeper residing in the rural expanse of Jodhpur district, found herself ensnared in the chains of child marriage at the tender age of seven, a daunting situation she faced for the past 11 years. As she matured, the revelation of her child marriage led her into a state of depression. During this period, her in-laws exerted pressure on Kanchan to undergo her ‘gauna’ ceremony.
‘Gauna’ is the ceremony associated with the consummation of marriage prevalent in the states of Rajasthan, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. It is associated with the custom of child marriage and the ceremony takes place years after marriage.
Meanwhile, Kanchan’s brother came to know about the campaign for eradication of child marriage run by Kriti Bharti, the managing trustee of Jodhpur’s Saarthi Trust. After Kanchan along with her brother met Bharti and narrated her ordeal, the trust filed a case seeking annulment of her child marriage at the Family Court No. 1 in Jodhpur.
Annoyed by Kanchan approaching the court, some caste leaders even ostracised her along with her family members and some other relatives, besides imposing a financial penalty on them.
However, following counseling by Bharti, many of the caste leaders came out in support of Kanchan and included her family members back into the community. They even agreed to annul Kanchan’s child marriage.
With the counselling of Bharti, the groom also gave his consent for the annulment of the marriage after which Justice Muzaffar Chaudhary ordered to annul the child marriage that took place 11 years ago.
Sending a strong message to the society, Justice Chowdhary said it is unfortunate that the brunt of child marriage has to be borne by many girls. Everyone in the society have the concerted responsibility to stop the practice of child marriage, he said.
Kanchan said, “With the help of Kriti Didi, my child marriage has been annulled. I am very happy. Now I will fulfill my dreams.”
“Kanchan has finally got freedom from child marriage. With this, our trust has now helped annul as many as 50 child marriages in Rajasthan. My dream is to see the practice of child marriage get buried in history books. Efforts are being made for better rehabilitation of Kanchan,” said Bharti, who’s also a rehabilitation psychologist and child and women’s rights advocate.