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This minor rag picker defied her community and chose education over marriage

A minor rag picker girl stood up to her family and refused to be married off despite immense pressure from the community. Swati (name changed) is one of the 6 siblings and she had never been to school until the age of 11. She would go rag picking with her mother until Vadegaon based Salesion Sister of Don Bosco ( SSDB), a non profit organisation which works for orphans and destitute children took her and gave her shelter. They even convinced Swati’s parents to let her go to school.

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She studies there for a year and directly got admission in class 5. While she was at SSDB she participated in a play about child marriage, which had a strong influence on her.

A year later when she returned home on vacation she found out that they had arranged for her to be married to a boy from Hunchenatti village. Swati was 12. However she defied them and convinced them to send her back to SSDB and not get her married. After she did return she hardly went back home.

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When she finally did return to her parents only to find the same pressure again. But she refused again and this time informed her parents that they could face a 5 year term in jail and a fine of upto 1 lakh for making her marry against her wish. When this matter was taken up by the elders of the community she managed to convince them too that child marriage is illegal.

Swati is currently studying in Class 8 and dreams of becoming a doctor to serve her community.

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