Santadevi Meghwal, who is currently 19, has said that she refused to live with the man to whom she got married when she was a toddler.
It was only at 16 that Meghwal learned about her marriage, but she had no recollection of the wedding ceremony.
When her husband and in-laws came to her parents’ home in Rajasthan, she refused to go with them. She is now fighting the child marriage and she is seeking an annulment. The college student who is studying to become a teacher is doing everything to fight it. Her husband, who is now 28 years old, wants her to be a housewife.
Meghwal’s parents are supporting her decision to annul her marriage. A tribal court ordered the family to pay the husband $25,000 and banished the family from the community. However, Meghwal is fighting her marriage along with the fine, and is vowing to take the fight to court no matter how long it might take.
Child marriages are prevalent in India. Estimates vary widely between sources as to the extent and scale of child marriages.The International Center for Research on Women – UNICEFpublications have estimated India’s child marriage rate to be 47% from small sample surveys of 1998, while the United Nations reports it to be 30% in 2005.
The Census of India has counted and reported married women by age, with proportion of females in child marriage falling in each 10 year census period since 1981. In its 2001 census report, India stated zero married girls below age 10, 1.4 million married girls out of 59.2 million girls in the age 10-14, and 11.3 million married girls out of 46.3 million girls in the age 15-19 (which includes 18-19 age group).
Since 2001, child marriage rates in India have fallen another 46%, reaching an overall nationwide average 7% child marriage rates by 2009.