Anushka, was not able to stand for long now as she is in the ‘happy’ eighth month of her pregnancy. She went and sat on the arm-chair in her room, picked up her phone and logged into facebook. She shouldn’t have logged in she thought after a few minutes of scrolling through her news-feed. Her college mates were completing their graduation, enrolling for higher learning and doing all sorts of things… She too had wanted to complete her MBA and be working in the corporate field, she even was promised that she will be able to study after marriage but situations turned out to be different. She was not barred from studying further by her in-laws but after being married at 18 and having a baby at 19 is going to make it next to impossible and also she has to look after her husband as well after all she is a ‘sanskari bahu’. She put down her phone and closed her eyes and forced a smile….this is life for her now the reality of her life. Shreya had a tough day today and she just came back home fighting the traffic of the city which is getting worse by every day. It was a tiring but a successful day. She was called by her head today and she has been made the regional manager. At last she will be living the dream, it's been a struggle of 28 years which has taken her today at this step of life. She, laying on her bed, smiling profusely turned on her instagram and her cousin has uploaded her wedding pics…Shreya’s smile faded a little. She was happy for her cousin but she is just 22 and already married….was it by her will or was it family pressure… Shreya put down her phone closed, her eyes and went on to think… what is the toughest part of a boy’s life??? career,friends,making a mark of self in the world, earning a livelihood there may be much more. what is the toughest part of a girl’s life??? Being a girl. since the age of 12 she gets her periods, pain every month bleeding for a little girl of mere 12 age and top of all she has to hide the fact that why her insides are turning inside her making her cry or maybe since birth seeing how a girl child of months is getting raped…and if she still survives all these,she gets pressurized or just forced into marriage by emotional or physical abuse at such an age at which me,you and all of us are busy scrolling through our news feed and cribbing for petty things being completely oblivious to the fact that still these social evils prevail all around us. When we make our future plans our bucket list at the age of 19…decide what to study and what not, what to do in life and what not at the same moment girls across the nation are being married at the age of 16,17,18,19 and are being given the responsibility of doing the household chores for the rest of her life when that same girl had so many dreams and aspirations to be, so many passions and so many hobbies to live but all getting quashed under the weight in her belly becoming a mother young and living for her family. Do you remember what you used to do when you were 18?? at that exact moment many girls were doing just the household chores and getting ready to just lay at the bed for her husband to take out the stress of his day….and consent..huhh does she know the importance of consent yet…was she allowed to study and see life to understand the meaning of her consent. for her whole life is just her baby, husband and her in-laws. if you just see the stories around you it will create a huge unrest in you by the thought of the disturbing life millions of girls go through everyday…every single damn day with no escaping. In today's world of woman empowerment and equality, is getting married at the age of 18…which mind you is legal according to the Sarada act of 1929(amended in 1978 making the legal age of marriage as 18 for girls and 21 for boys) a step towards empowerment?? Will she be able to be independent when she doesn’t have the right to acquire some skill or knowledge? According to a study by UNICEF, 27% of girls in India are married before their 18th birthday. Things get worse when they are forced and pressurized by their families to become a mother willingly or unwillingly soon after marriage. forget the world I ask you, will you be ready to become a mother at the age of 19?? even if we keep aside the factor of mental preparedness, today The major cause of deaths of girls who are 15-19 years old is pregnancy-related complications. The number of women and girls in India who died due to issues during pregnancy and childbirth in the year 2017 was as high as 35000.though it has significantly decreased from 103,000 in 2000. Women who are married and impregnated at a very early age lack the recourse to proper education and access to health care, antenatal care, skilled child delivery and the complete vaccination of the infants which explains the lack of child health care.
Most child marriages result in teenage pregnancy due to societal pressure and lack of knowledge of family planning. Almost one in three girls who get married off between the age of 15 to 19 years, end up having babies while THEY ARE TEENAGERS THEMSELVES. Almost a quarter of them had a child by age of 17, and 31% by 18. This virtually eliminates the chance that the girl would have to study and become self-sufficient.
and this results in many grave results which are as bad as physical violence, marital rape and life time of mental abuse just because the girl doesn’t have the required set of skills or knowledge to challenge the patriarchy of the society.
Reasons of being married off early are many, ranging from lack of education to poverty to the societal framing as well as solutions to curb this are many as well, from NGOs to the government framing new rules and monitoring but the question that still stays at large for all of us is being the future of the world, our nation can we stay ignorant to all this and still cry out loud“WOMAN EMPOWERMENT”.