Anjani lived with her parents and younger siblings in a small village in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. She was studying in a government school which was situated in the village itself. Her father was the sole earning member of the family. He incidentally fell sick and could not work on a regular basis. The family faced economic deprivation.
One day when Anjani returned from school, she heard about her marriage being finalized by the parents. Anjani was 14 year old and the marriage alliance was getting finalized with a man who was 9 years older to her. Anjani froze. She didnt understand the meaning of marriage. The only image that came to her mind was that while her friends would go to school, she would be caged in the four walls of a new house full of unknown people. It scared her. She was angry and frustrated but her lips were sealed. After a few days Anjani was married off. Her husband brought her to NOIDA, an industrial city close to Delhi, where he worked in a factory. They lived in a rented room and struggled with the inadequacies of migrant life.
Anjani, the Child Bride quietly managed the household chores and her child while her husband went to work. The bouts of depression came in often. Somehow, the spark in Anjani remained alive. Deep inside, she did not give up on life. She wanted to continue her school and her husband ALLOWED her to enroll in national Open School. She completed High school. Her aspirations grew and she completed Graduation course through distance learning.
In October 2019, Anjani came to sarthak: the Youth and Skill development center, managed by our organisation. She was then a woman of 24 years. She told us her story and we enrolled her in a course in retail management. The 4 months of training catapulted the depressed and angry Anjani into an extrovert woman who was ready to control the reins of her life. On the completion of course, she appeared for a job interview. She cracked the interview in one go. The company, Logi Tech Solutions Pvt Ltd. Noida offered her the salary of 12000 INR. Anjani's joy spared above the sky.
Anjani was the victim of Child Marriage, the biggest adversity in the life of a girl. This adversity is common in the South Asian region under the pretext of religion, poverty, caste and class. In India alone, 30% of girls are married before their 18th birthday and 7% are married before the age of 15 despite there being a law against it (UNICEF). This raises questions on several accounts. What happens to the child brides? Are they able to rise above the mist of child marriage? How do they survive the burden the reproduction and household responsibilities? Are they seen or heard about once they leave the paternal home young and timid? Do we have an ecosystem that supports them?
Anjani had the courage to rise above the mist of child marriage. How many child brides are actually able to succeed like her?
The year 2020 is for Anjani and many such girls who rise above the economic, social and cultural adversities that are created by us?
Power to Anjani!!