Thursday, July 11, 2013

Child marriage

Summer vacation is a long rest for teachers as everyone says, but it is not so. As a teacher, it’s a really boring phase of the year as teachers are always concerned about their students – teaching, interacting and conducting activities etc. All the summer vacation I was waiting for the month of June to meet my students… went to the school on a Saturday with lots of enthusiasm. However, the visit made me sad and disheartened. I heard that five of our students from ninth and tenth standards got married in summer. “It’s all due to parental pressure that they had to agree for the wedding” explained their classmates sadly.

One of the girls has got married before board exams; however, she fought with her in-laws and wrote the exams. It shows how challenging it is for these girls to pursue higher studies in the future.
 Most of the students belong to families where the parents are illiterates and slum dwellers. In a typical Indian lower middle-class family, girl children are seen as “bojh” (burdens) on the parents’ shoulders. They want to get off their girl child by making them tie the knot with a person who would give them security. Parents hardly care about the opinions of girls about marriage, thus they often have to sacrifice their happiness to satisfy their parents and be a good, obedient daughter.

 Parental views on girl child marriage –
  • We are worried about the society. They point fingers at us if we do not marry off our girl child even after her schooling.
  • I have five children, my daughter is the oldest, and we have to perform her wedding immediately after seventh standard. We have four more daughters lined up for wedding.
  • We really want to send our girl child to pursue higher studies, but we are afraid that she might side-track, fall in love or marry against our wishes etc. To be on safer side it would be good to perform her wedding after tenth standard. If her in-laws agree, she will continue her studies.
  • My daughter got a nice match (groom). So though she is in tenth standard, we are ready to perform her wedding. She might not get a guy like this, and they are asking nominal (two – three lakhs cash+ home appliances + a motorbike) dowry.

Majority of Indians belong to the above-mentioned category. Child marriage is still prevalent in every corner of the state and this is the reason we are seeing constant child mortality rate from past many years (for more info). Also Indian women are more anemic compared to other countries. 

These all are known facts and are being debated since ages, but the reformation of perception is very slow. The only missile to dismantle these social evils is education. If every parent is educated, we wouldn’t see such cases. Here’s hoping the future generation, being more educated, would take an active role in doing away with such practices.