I Was 15 When I Was Getting Married But What Happened Next Changed My Life For Good

CRY Child Rights and You CRY Child Rights and You in Your Story on 6 January, 2017

I taught my mother something that many parents in our society are choosing to ignore, still. Living in the past is one thing but ruining someone's future because living in the past is much more convenient is wrong. 

Yes, you read that right. I'm a daughter, not a son, but a daughter who inspired her mother to take a step in the right direction. And this is my story.

I am Sarika Kumari, a fifteen-year-old student studying in 9th standard. I was studying in Sitalpur High School, in Munger, Bihar, when I got the biggest shock of my life. I was one of the bright students in my class because I enjoyed studies. I was never forced to go to school despite the fact that the infrastructure was not at all suitable for girls. I didn't mind it, I wanted to study more everyday, learn more everyday, until I realised what my parents had different plans for me. 

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Unfortunately, what my parents wanted for me is every girl's story in my village. 

I didn't know that at the age of 15, I had already entered the "marriageable" age. My parents were already on a lookout for a groom for me. They didn't think I'd mind it because girls at my age in my village don't speak up even if they mind. The first step they took for me was — they stopped me from attending school. May be that would make me like the idea of marriage?

I can't blame them. I don't want to. My parents knew it was the norm to marry off your girl as soon as she grows up. This ensures her ‘security’ in her adolescence. In all their innocence, they were looking out for their 'little girl'. I couldn't have asked them to educate themselves at the age they're in but I could at least try and make them more aware. In the process, I realised that what they didn’t know was that they were underestimating their own daughter. They didn't know I was good in studies and what I could do with my future just by completing my education. I didn't know what to do.

As soon I came to know of my wedding, I alerted my friends in the 'Munna Munni Manch' (the Children’s Group in my village, Mai) and the Women’s Group. My parents, resorting to desperate measures, stopped me from leaving the house. I was trapped in my own home, and could not even meet my friends.
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In the meanwhile, the family of the groom met my parents and my mother finalised my marriage. In order to make sure that there were no obstacles on the way, the groom agreed to take no dowry. 

I, however, was not to be convinced. I held my ground. I felt alone but not helpless. 

So I waited and waited and fought till I was heard. In this time, the staff of CRY-supported project Disha Vihar, the community, the children’s group, and the women’s group, got to know my story. If I was willing to help myself, they were willing to fight for me. They sensitised my parents against child marriage.

Like a blessing in disguise, they even informed the groom’s family that what they were doing was illegal.

Finally, my job was done. My would-be groom’s family called off the marriage. Today, I am back to doing what I do best – studying. I completed my Secondary Examinations in the year 2013 and Higher Secondary (Humanities) exams in the year 2015. I am now studying Bachelor of Arts in Munger, apart from pursuing a basic computer course.

I had to fight my own fight till my voice reached someone. Sadly, that's not the case in every girl's home in my village. You can help by simply signing this petition. Just 2 seconds of your time will probably change a girl's life for good, take this opportunity to make a difference in 2017.

Sarika with her mother 1

Author's Note:

This, however, is not the end of the story. What I have been able to do with the help of my friends is that we have sensitised an entire village against the practice of child marriage. More so, today I am accompanied by my mother in stopping child marriages in not only my own village, but also in the neighbouring ones. One step in the right direction and determination to stick to it is all it took for this change to happen. 

Editor's Note:

A 15-year-old kid is meant for much greater things than making a home for a stranger. Especially when there are endless opportunities around. For that, a child needs education. Right to school should be a priority over right to freedom, I feel. What say you?