Santadevi Meghwal was barely 11 months old when her parents arranged her marriage to an older boy, following village tradition. She learned about the agreement upon turning 16, when her suitor and his family arrived to the Rohicha Kallan village in the Jodhpur district where Meghwal lived and demanded she leave with him. Meghwal, a college student who hopes to become a teacher, refused to leave with the man, who she said then stalked her at her university and harassed her in public. She was reportedly hit with a hefty fine by the village council. Despite the illegality of child marriage in India, the country serves as the world’s second-greatest home to child brides: according to UNICEF, more than 43 percent of women in India aged 20-24 were married before their 18th birthday. Meghwal turned to Saarthi Trust NGO for help in annulling the marriage on the grounds of mutual consent and plans to pursue legal action against a fine levied by the local village council.
Read the full story at Gulf News India.