Seven boys and six girls stepped up to save their friend when adults did not. A girl from the Jhalana slum in Jaipur, Rajasthan, was packed off to her ‘husband’s’ home. When her school friends realized that she was not coming to school, they guessed what happened, and began an epic quest to save her.
In 2012, the girl had been married off to a man ten years her senior when her brother married a girl from that family. “In our society, there’s a tradition of exchanging girls – if you want a bride, you give your daughter in marriage in return,” the girl told Hindustan Times. She continued to live with her brothers. But in May, she was finally sent off to live to her husband’s home. The very next day, her friends kicked up a fuss when they realized that she was missing. On being told that she had been sent away, they went-barefoot- to the local police station, only to be told that no action could be taken till the girl’s family reported a case.
Dejected, they still did not give up. One of the children saw the District Collector’s number on the wall of the police station. Sobbing, she called him up and begged him to save her friend. The collector, Siddharth Majan, took down the address of the in-laws and immediately dispatched police officers to bring the girl home. The Child Welfare Committee sent her to a shelter home, but her friends were not having it. They wanted her where she belonged- studying in school with them. The coaxed their teachers, who in turn managed to have the girl’s parents release her. On July 22, she was back in class.
The girl has now moved the Jaipur family court to seek an annulment of her marriage. She feels that she is too young to wed, and wants to continue her studies. With her friends alongside her, she is confident she will win.
This news broke out just days after child bride’s story. Seems like even when adults continue to be dictated by archaic, meaningless traditions, the younger generation is fighting back to claim their rights, and using social support and education as their main weapon.