The family of a 19-year old girl who rejected an arranged marriage when she was a baby has now been ostracized and fined 1.6 million rupees ($25,000) by a village council. Santadevi Meghwal, from the western desert state of Rajasthan, said she was married off at 11 months old to a nine-year-old boy in her village, but only became aware of the arrangement when she was 16. With the support of her parents, she refused to go and live with her husband and in-laws as they demanded. “I want to study and become a teacher. I don’t want to go there,” she told CNN-IBN television on Wednesday. Her husband’s family refused to annul the marriage, however, and took the matter to the village council, which imposed the harsh fine and banished the family from the community. The Sarathi Trust, a local charity is now helping the family and has planned legal action against the members of the village council. While child marriage is illegal in India, it remains deeply ingrained in Indian culture. According to government figures, about 47 percent of women between 20 and 24 were married before the age of 18.
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