Girl revolts against traditional child marriage practice

NAHARLAGUN, Jan 04: Child marriage though legally banned in Arunachal Pradesh but still continues under the influence of age-old traditional system. But, such victims of late have been revolting to seek freedom to lead a decent life.

Another startling story of survival of a child marriage victim has surfaced. She   fought against all odds to get back her freedom to live.  A girl named Yarang (name changed) hailing from a small village was living happily with her parents with dreams in her innocent eyes. She was just 8-year-old when she was sold by her parents to an elderly man, of almost her father’s age.

As a child bride, Yarang endured the terror and pain of an unwanted physical relationship. She was sexually assaulted time and again by her husband and was often subjected to domestic violence. She was hapless and unable to even seek help under threat and oppression. She told her father about the harassment she was facing, but her father instead of saving her ignored saying that being a girl she has to adjust with whatsoever situation. Her greatest loss was her freedom to live.

After tolerating years of torture, she gathered courage and grabbed the opportunity to flee from the hell and managed to dial up 181(women helpline-WHL). Like a beacon of hope for such women, the WHL team intervened, rescued, sheltered her at swardhargreh, run by Oju Welfare Association and offered medical aid in its legal aid clinic.

A new life begun for her with OWA imparting vocational training, like beautician, tailoring, mura making and weaving for her to earn her livelihood. Her case was forwarded to court and finally the accused agreed to free her from his illegal clutch with an agreement not to disturb her in near future.

WHL encourages all suffering women not to tolerate such violence as they are not alone in the society. One decided, they can help protect other girls being tormented for none of their fault. WHL is a toll free 24X7 telecom services to help women affected by violence and seeking support and information. You can also reach to us by our toll free 181, M:9436852222.


Child marriage highest in Arunachal

Child marriages are mostly because of traditional practice, which has been elucidated by state’s literary doyen Lummer Dai in his monumental Assumes book Kanyar Mulya (1982) or Bride Price. This Assamese novel based on the lives and societies of Adi tribe in socio-cultural and historical background of the times. It had given an insight into cultural diversity vis-à-vis humanity.

Prevalence of child marriage in India is the highest amongst ST girls (15%) followed by SC (13%), a New Delhi report in September  last said, quoting  National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

West Bengal has the highest rate of child marriage amongst SC girls, while in Arunachal Pradesh it is highest among Scheduled Tribes. Maharashtra has the highest percentage of girl child marriage in other castes. This phenomenon is evident among top 10 states with the highest prevalence of child marriage.

The report which was released on the NCPCR website on 12.09.18, is based on a comparative analysis of data on child marriage in the 15-19 age group from the third and fourth rounds of the National Family Health Survey (NHFS) conducted in 2005-2006 and 2015-16. The report has been prepared by Young Lives India, a research centre, in collaboration with the NCPCR.

However, scholar Ngurang Reena that the educational sector of the state is another essential area of concern. As per the 2011 Census, the literacy rate in Arunachal Pradesh is 66.95%, with male literacy at 73.69% while the female literacy is 59.57% only. Education is a privilege enjoyed mostly by men here, with women looked at as a liability until she is ‘sold off’ in return of a hefty price which would generally be a good number of mithuns. In this regard, getting a female educated is considered a ‘wastage’. Historically, a variety of factors have been found to be responsible for poor female literacy rate, primary of which are: gender-based inequality, social discrimination and economic exploitation, occupation of girl child in domestic chores, low enrolment of girls in schools, low retention rate and high dropout rate.

The adult education department in the state is running a large number of adult education centres to provide education for older members of the society. Various schemes are also sponsored by the GoI through the district adult education officers and schemes such as anganwadi on a pre-primary level have been set up in the state for the easy schooling of the children. Many anganwadi centres are functioning in the districts under the ICDS as well. However, a lot of work needs to be done, in the said discourse of women empowerment. One anticipates encouragement and support from all, especially from men in the society, towards providing a space for women empowerment.

Although things do seem very grim and bleak in Arunachal, there are people who have been actively contributing to encourage and uplift women across different tribes. We all know that the sati system, much like these practices in Arunachal, had once been very prevalent in the Indian society. But just because something has been normalised and occurs frequently in a society doesn’t necessarily mean that it is right.

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