An ordinary college-going girl in Rajasthan, Santadevi Meghwal, took a step which very few would have dared. Santadevi rejected the marriage conducted by her parents when she was just 11 months old with a 9-year-old boy.
She has been also been slapped with a penalty of Rs 16 lakh by a panchayat for standing up to her parents and patriarchy, reports Times of India.
But nothing can deter her. Santadevi, with the help of an NGO, Sarthi Trust, is now set to move court for legal termination of her childhood marriage.
She will be filing a petition on Wednesday in the Family Court for an annulment, a requirement because of an anomaly in the law.
The 19-year old brave girl said:
“I do not want to have anything to do with the child marriage. I don’t even remember I had a child marriage. Now that I know, I want it annulled. The community has boycotted my family. When I renounced this marriage, my so-called husband, Sanwalaram, started stalking me and threatening to take me away forcibly. At first, I was scared as my parents were not with me. But the more pressure they put, the more determined I got to break free.”
Her father Padmaram, a mason, now sees reason, and is standing by his daughter. Santadevi who lives in Rohicha Khurd village in Luni tahsil, near Jodhpur wants to complete her studies and become a teacher.
Given her courage and determination, the authorities are helping her. The Women and Child Welfare department offered her legal help. Rajasthan health minister Rajendra Singh Rathore said:
“We’ve asked officials to probe the matter and take harsh action against panchayat members if they’re found guilty.”